Old rivalries are likely to resurface on Saturday as Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea head to Elland Road to face Leeds United in a highly anticipated encounter in the Premier League. The Blues have shown a remarkable resurgence in recent weeks, and will be facing the Whites with a nine-match unbeaten run in the Premier League behind them.
Here’s our preview of Saturday’s fixture between Leeds United and Chelsea:
Leeds will head into the fixture after back-to-back defeats against Aston Villa and West Ham United.
They have won just one out of their last five Premier League encounters, casting doubts on Marcelo Bielsa’s attacking strategy. However, the results don’t truly reflect the performance of the team in these fixtures as most of them were won on margins by the opponents.
The Whites average a blistering 3.3 combined goals per match this season – the highest in the league. The high average shows not just the weakness in Leeds defences that Premier League teams have been able to exploit, but also the emphasis that Marcelo Bielsa places on scoring goals above everything else.
None of their last 18 (8W-10L) Premier League fixtures ended in a draw, showing the team’s willingness to be bold and take risks. Such a dynamic display is likely to repeat on Saturday.
Adam Forshaw and Robin Koch continue to remain on the sidelines for the Whites, but the good news is that Kalvin Phillips is set to feature regularly after he featured on Tuesday against West Ham United.
Rodrigo also made an appearance on the bench along with defender Gaetano Berardi, giving Bielsa a triple-boost. Pablo Hernandez and Jamie Shackleton remain doubtful with injuries, and Pascal Struijk has missed Tuesday’s fixture, with Kalvin Phillips taking his place.
Chelsea were eighth in the Premier League when Frank Lampard was replaced by Thomas Tuchel as the manager for the Blues. Within two months, Chelsea have climbed to the fourth spot with an unbeaten nine-match streak, and are within touching distance of second-place Manchester United.
This extraordinary turnaround has been based on a solid defensive record – keeping nine clean sheets in the last 11 matches and conceding just two goals.
Chelsea are heading into the game brimming with confidence on the back of consecutive victories against defending champions Liverpool and Everton.
Unlike Leeds, Chelsea have just one injury concern in the form of Tammy Abraham, who will be out of the game due to an ankle injury. Even if he recovers in time for the match, he may be tactically left out of the team to be ready for the UCL fixture next Thursday.
HEAD TO HEAD
The historic rivalry between both the teams is well-known, with fans of both teams participating in numerous violent encounters off-the-field in the 60s.
Leeds’ long absence from the Premier League has put the rivalry on the back burner, but fans hope for a resurgence of the rivalry pretty soon.
Leeds dominate the head-to-head statistics with 39 wins in 91 fixtures, compared to Chelsea’s 27. But in recent years, it is the Blues who have been the dominant team.
Chelsea remain unbeaten in the last nine encounters against the Whites, winning the last three encounters outright. The latest match between both the teams back in December went 3-1 in favour of Chelsea.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Chelsea’s ascendance looks unstoppable. But if there is any team capable of stopping them, it is Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds.
The Whites have shown courage and mixed it with skill, leading to goal-laden matches that come down to the wire. The attack-at-all-costs strategy of Marcelo Bielsa will come face-to-face with the rock-solid defence of Thomas Tuchel’s Blues, and the match can go either way.
Leeds United Predicted XI: Illan Meslier, Luke Ayling, Diego Llorente, Liam Cooper, Stuart Dallas, Kalvin Phillips, Mateusz Klich, Helder Costa, Raphinha, Tyler Roberts, Patrick Bamford.
Chelsea Predicted XI: Edouard Mendy, Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger; Callum Hudson-Odoi, N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Marcos Alonso, Mason Mount, Timo Werner, Tammy Abraham
When: Saturday, 13 March 2021, 6:00 PM IST
Where: Elland Road.
Where to Watch: All Premier League fixtures are streamed live on Disney+ Hotstar. Select matches will be streamed on Star Sports and Star Sports Select channels.
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