Leeds host Chelsea at Elland Road on Saturday in the English Premier League. Marcelo Bielsa’s side have suffered several recent defeats and face a Chelsea side in excellent form under Thomas Tuchel. On the terrible playing surface at Elland Road, Leeds will want to beat their heated rivals and get the few more points required to secure survival.
Having picked up away wins at Newcastle and Leicester in late January and then beating Crystal Palace at home in early February, Leeds have suffered a dip in results since then with their Premier League status close to being secured.
They have lost four of their last five league matches as they went down 4-2 at Arsenal and 1-0 at Wolves before thrashing Southampton 3-0 at home. A 1-0 defeat at home to Aston Villa followed before a 2-0 defeat at West Ham despite playing very well in the second half.
Leeds have lost their last four matches against the “big six” by 3-1 (to Chelsea), 6-2, 3-0 and 4-2 scorelines.
Leeds Team News
Leeds have had Diego Llorente back at centre back alongside Liam Cooper for the last three matches. That has been a timely boost as Robin Koch and Pascal Struijk have both been injured and could miss this match.
Kalvin Phillips was back in the side against West Ham having missed four matches with a calf problem and he played very well. Rodrigo was also back as a substitute after six matches out with a groin problem.
Pablo Hernandez and Jamie Shackleton are both doubts with injuries so Ezgjan Alioski could start at left back with Stuart Dallas moving into midfield for his greater defensive nous.
Leeds are going to try to attack Chelsea and will man mark all over the field. The question for Marcelo Bielsa is how he sets up his side. Against teams playing two strikers, he usually uses a back three to have spare man. Against a team setting up with a back three, he often matches up. The problem against Chelsea is that Tuchel could use a 3-5-2 with split strikers and a number ten or go with a false nine and two wide forwards or even a target man with two number tens.
Leeds’ man marking is going to be challenged but their style of defending won’t change. On a poor playing surface, a slightly more direct style may be used. Bielsa’s side won’t even settle for a draw and will go all out to win this match but there is a concern that the intensity has dropped off slightly with safety from relegati
Since the appointment of Thomas Tuchel after five defeats in nine matches for Frank Lampard, Chelsea have looked rock solid. The side have eight wins in 11 matches with a remarkable nine clean sheets. After some favourable early fixtures, the coach has overseen 1-0 away wins at Tottenham, Atletico Madrid and Liverpool.
In their last match, having averaged just 1.31 Expected Goals per game since Tuchel arrived, Chelsea beat Everton 2-0 and put up 2.41 xG, their highest under the coach.
Chelsea Team News
With Atletico Madrid on the horizon, that could inform Thomas Tuchel’s team selection. Both Jorginho and Mason Mount are suspended in the Champions League so look certain starters here. Antonio Rudiger should be recalled in defence whilst Thiago Silva is also pushing for minutes after injury.
In attack, Kai Havertz will hope to keep his place as a false nine after excelling against Everton, likely with Mount and Timo Werner in support. Callum Hudson-Odoi could revert to right wingback and N’Golo Kante should be in the XI after being rotated to the bench against Everton.
Chelsea will play to control this match with the ball and move Leeds around with quick ball movement. The state of the pitch may make that difficult to some more direct play to hit Werner in the space or the head of Havertz or Olivier Giroud could be seen.
Tuchel won’t settle for a draw and will go all out to win this match to solidify the side’s place in the top four.
Leeds have lost 4 of their last 5 PL matches
Leeds have lost their last 4 matches against the “big six” by a 16-5 aggregate
Leeds have the 2nd worst defensive record in the PL – 1.7 goals conceded per match
4 of Leeds’ last 6 PL home matches have seen under 2.5 goals (*poor playing surface)
Chelsea have kept 9 clean sheets in their last 11 matches
Chelsea have seen under 2.5 goals in 10 of their last 11 matches
The Blues have won 8 of their last 11 matches
There is no doubt that Leeds will give Chelsea a very tough match especially with the very poor playing surface. However, Bielsa’s team get to get heavily beaten by the better sides and even if Tuchel’s Chelsea can’t play free flowing football, they can grind out a win. An away victory by a couple of goals looks the best bet.