Chelsea will aim to keep their fine run of form going when they welcome Leeds United to Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
The festive period is nearly upon us and the games have already started coming thick and fast. The 2020/21 Premier League season resumes this weekend with Gameweek 11 and the action on Saturday will end in the capital, where Chelsea will play hosts to Leeds United at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea have been going through a superb run of form and have overcome a slow start to the season in style. The Blues’ last defeat in any competition came back in September and since then, they have gone on a 12-match unbeaten streak. The latest success in this brilliant run came in the form of a 4-0 trouncing of Sevilla, with Olivier Giroud scoring each of the goals.
Leeds United, on the other hand, have slowed down following an electric start to the season. The Whites, who are one of the most creative teams in the Premier League, are currently 12th on the table, five points behind hosts Chelsea. However, Marcelo Bielsa & co. have managed to rake in all three points in just two of their last seven games, including their most recent outing.
Chelsea were narrow 1-0 victors the last time this fixture was played in the Premier League back in 2004, with current manager Frank Lampard a part of the winning side. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Frank Lampard has a fully fit squad at his disposal ahead of the visit of Leeds United on Saturday. The Chelsea manager, though, is expected to make heavy rotations once again, in a bid to keep his troops fresh amid the fixture congestion.
Edouard Mendy, however, will continue to be deployed between the sticks, having kept yet another clean sheet against Sevilla earlier this week. The defensive line, though, should resemble a new look again, reverting to the combination that was fielded versus Tottenham Hotspur last weekend.
That means Thiago Silva and Kurt Zouma will pair up at the heart of the Chelsea defence, with Ben Chilwell and Reece James being the two full-backs. Up ahead in midfield, the Blues should continue lining up in the 4-3-3 formation, but Jorginho and Kai Havertz are likely to drop down to the bench against Leeds, despite their solid performance earlier this week.
In their stead, N’Golo Kante and Mason Mount ought to be recalled, with the tireless Mateo Kovacic continuing his run in the side. The key selection dilemma that Lampard faces comes in attack, following Olivier Giroud’s incredible display against Sevilla.
Giroud ought to have done enough to earn another start, meaning Tammy Abraham starts on the bench again. Timo Werner should replace Christian Pulisic on the left flank, with Callum Hudson-Odoi making way for Hakim Ziyech, who will shoulder the bulk of the creative responsibility for Chelsea against Leeds.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Mendy; James, Zouma, Silva, Chilwell; Mount, Kante, Kovacic; Ziyech, Giroud, Werner
Unlike his counterpart in the Chelsea dugout, Marcelo Bielsa does have a few pressing roster issues hampering his preparations ahead of the trip to Stamford Bridge. On Saturday, the Leeds United manager will be bereft of the services of four first-team players.
Each of the four players, though, are inching closer to their return, with Diego Llorente fit. But, the game against Chelsea has come too soon for the Spaniard, who is still awaiting his Leeds debut. Bielsa has coaxed Llorente to play for the under-23 side to build his fitness up and the likes of Adam Forshaw, Pablo Hernandez and Jamie Shackleton are set to follow suit as well.
Bielsa is unlikely to make any changes to the side that was so efficient against Everton last week. Illan Meslier was colossal in goal and will once again be a busy man in all likelihood versus Chelsea. In front of him, Robin Koch and captain Liam Cooper will need to be solid at the heart of the Leeds defence, with Luke Ayling and Stuart Dallas being the full-back pairing.
Up ahead in midfield, Kalvin Phillips will be the midfield lynchpin for Leeds and will hope to keep a lid on Chelsea’s creative output. Phillips will receive defensive support from Mateusz Klich, who will also pose a threat with his forays through the central advanced areas.
Jack Harrison was deployed in a free role last time out and he revelled in such a position. The young forward should essay that role once again versus Chelsea, with Raphinha and Egan Alioski being the two wide men. Finally, former Chelsea striker Patrick Bamford will spearhead the Leeds attack, as ever, with Rodrigo being a backup option.
Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Meslier; Ayling, Koch, Cooper, Dallas; Phillips; Raphinha, Klich, Harrison, Alioski; Bamford
1. Leeds Asian Handicap + 1.5 @ 1.600
1. Full-Time Result – Draw @ 4.50
- Leeds have lost their last three Premier League away games against Chelsea (between 2002-2004), as many as they had lost in their first nine in the competition at Stamford Bridge (W2 D4 L3).
- Leeds have won just one of their last 21 away league games against London sides (D6 L14), beating QPR 3-1 in December 2017. In the top-flight, the Whites have lost their last four games in the capital by an aggregate score of 1-12.
- Of all Premier League sides to have played in more than one season, Chelsea have the best win rate in home games against promoted sides (82% – 68 wins in 83 games). Indeed, the Blues have lost just three such matches in the competition – 0-2 vs Nottingham Forest in January 1995, 0-1 vs Charlton in April 2001 and 0-1 vs Bournemouth in December 2015.
- Only Tottenham (9) are on a longer current unbeaten run in the Premier League than Chelsea (8), while no side has kept more clean sheets than the Blues in the division this term (5).
- Leeds have won three of their five Premier League away games this season (L2), as many as they had in the whole of their previous campaign in 2003/04 (W3 D2 L14). The Whites have kept a clean sheet in each of these three victories.
Player to Watch
Chelsea have become quite an efficient side in the last couple of months, but one player who finds himself in a bit of a fix is Timo Werner. Signed to lead the line for the Blues for years to come, the German international has had to feature from the left flank in most of his recent outings.
The form displayed by Olivier Giroud and Tammy Abraham might not help his case a great deal either; and with Christian Pulisic back at Frank Lampard’s disposal, Werner really needs to be on top of his game in order to firmly hold onto his place in the side. A big test of Werner’s credentials and the 24-year-old will be eager to make his opportunity count.
Chelsea 3-0 Leeds United
There seems to be very little stopping Chelsea at the moment. The Blues have turned things around superbly after a sluggish start to the season, with Thiago Silva solidifying the defence after settling in at the club. However, in Leeds United, Silva and Chelsea face their biggest test yet. After all, Leeds are one of the most creative sides in all of Premier League.
On the opposite end, though, Chelsea should get plenty of opportunities to find the back of the net; and unlike Everton, the Blues ought to be far more clinical in the final third, with the likes of Timo Werner, Olivier Giroud and Hakim Ziyech having the ability to run riot. On the opposite end, the west Londoners ought to do enough to keep another clean sheet.
The game will see the long-awaited return of fans inside the Stamford Bridge and the Chelsea players will be eager to serve up a fantastic performance on the occasion. The Hard Tackle, therefore, predicts a 3-0 win for Frank Lampard & co. in a result that temporarily takes them to the top of the Premier League table.