Leeds host Chelsea at Elland Road on Sunday afternoon in one of Britain’s more historically violent rivalries. Jesse Marsch’s side have made a good start to this season with a win and a draw and may feel they should have six points on the board. Chelsea also have four points after conceding a 96th minute equaliser against Tottenham.
The Whites had a tough finish to last season, only securing their survival on the final day. The fixture list played it’s part in that as three losses on the bounce against the top five opened the doors for other teams. They were beaten 4-0 at home by Man City, 2-1 at Arsenal, and 3-0 at Elland Road by Chelsea after Dan James was red carded.
A 2-1 win at Brentford on the final day secured their place in the top-flight. They beat Wolves 2-1 at home on the opening day of the 2022-23 season having trailed 1-0. In their last match, they led 2-0 at Southampton after 71 minutes but leaked two goals in 10 minutes to drop two points.
Leeds Team News
Leeds continue to suffer with lots of injuries. Stuart Dallas is out long-term and fullback Luke Ayling is recovering from surgery. Captain Liam Cooper is absent at the back and so is left back Junior Firpo. To make matters worse, Patrick Bamford went off injured at Southampton. He is touch-and-go to recover in time for this match.
Dan James could replace Bamford with the in-form Rodrigo remaining as number ten. Colombian winger Luis Sinisterra appeared as a sub at St. Mary’s and will hope for more action in this one.
This is a grudge match and Leeds will be very physical in this one. Expect a lot of pressing and running and some fierce challenges to try to disrupt the Blues.
A draw would be a decent result but Leeds are certainly not going to be playing for one from the first whistle at this stage of the season.
It’s been a reasonable start to the new season for Chelsea. They ended their four-match losing streak at Goodison Park in the opening fixture albeit in a laboured outing. Against Tottenham, they dominated the majority of the match and led 1-0 and 2-1 but leaked a 96th minute set-piece to drop two points.
Chelsea have a bad spell towards the end of last season (three defeats in six in the league) but recovered well to finish off four unbeaten. They won 3-0 at Leeds and beat Watford 2-1 but could only draw at home to Wolves and Leicester as the clean sheets dried up.
Chelsea Team News
The Blues are without N’Golo Kante in midfield due to a hamstring injury. Mateo Kovacic is also expected to be absent in the engine room. Thomas Tuchel will have a choice between Conor Gallagher or Ruben Loftus-Cheek in that position.
If the latter moves centrally, then Cesar Azpilicueta could start on the right of the back three with Reece James moving forward. The rest of the XI is set to remain the same from the draw against Tottenham with Kai Havertz and Raheem Sterling up front.
Chelsea will be very motivated to take three points after how things ended against Spurs. Facing Leeds is also a fiery clash and the English players will have made some of the new signings aware of that fact.
A draw would feel like a defeat and Tuchel won’t settle for one, instead making creative attacking changes to try grab a winner if the scores are level.
Leeds have lost 6 of their last 10 home PL matches
Leeds have failed to score in 2 of their last 4 home matches (PL)
Leeds have lost 3 of their last 4 PL matches against Chelsea
Chelsea have won 6 of their last 8 away PL matches
Chelsea have kept 3 clean sheets in their last 5 away matches (PL)
Chelsea’s Mount has scored 3 goals in his last 5 matches vs Leeds
This should be a huge game and Leeds will make life very difficult for Chelsea. The Blues should be able to stand up to the test physically and get a narrow victory on the road.