Chelsea and Leeds United will be gunning to bounce back to winning ways when they take on each other at Elland Road in the Premier League this week.

As we enter the final phase of the 2021/22 Premier League campaign, Chelsea are fighting to seal a top-four finish while Leeds United are battling for survival as the two sides lock horns on Wednesday night at Elland Road.

After enjoying a brief positive phase following Jesse Marsch’s appointment as Marcelo Bielsa’s replacement, Leeds United find themselves staring at the barrel in the relegation zone. With Burnley and Everton racking up positive results, the Whites have dropped to 18th place in the table, failing to win their last three matches, losing each of their previous two to Manchester City and Arsenal.

But with Burnley level on points and Everton just a point above, there is still a chance for Leeds to pull off a great escape. However, things will not get any easier for them as they face Chelsea in their next assignment. Although, they can have some hope going into the contest as the west London club are not going through the best of moments themselves.

Chelsea have won just one of their last five league outings and are without a victory in their previous three, most recently being held to a 2-2 draw by Wolves. And with the FA Cup final against Liverpool coming up this weekend, Thomas Tuchel’s side could have their eyes on that game, which Leeds might look to capitalise on.

Chelsea are currently third in the Premier League table, with Arsenal just a point below them in fourth, while Tottenham are five points behind in fifth. The Blues still need four points from three games to confirm a top-four berth. But with home games against Leicester City and Watford coming up after the Leeds encounter, it should help them get over the line.

Chelsea and Leeds United were involved in a thriller in the reverse fixture, with the Blues securing a 3-2 win courtesy of a stoppage-time penalty from Jorginho. Ahead of their latest game on Wednesday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.

Team News & Tactics

Leeds United

Leeds United could welcome back captain Liam Cooper for the game, but Luke Ayling is ruled out for the rest of the season due to suspension after his sending off against Arsenal last time out. Meanwhile, Patrick Bamford, Tyler Roberts, Crysencio Summerville, Stuart Dallas and Adam Forshaw are out with injuries.

Jesse Marsch will likely set his team up in a 4-2-3-1 formation against Chelsea, with Illan Meslier lining up in goal and looking to redeem himselfย following an erroneous display last time out against Arsenal. The returning Cooper should partner Diego Llorente at the heart of the Leeds defence while Jamie Shackleton replaces Ayling at right-back. Junior Firpo should continue on the left side.

Kalvin Phillips is a certainty at the base of the Leeds midfield and could likely be partnered by Mateusz Klich, who will need to step up after a poor showing in the first half versus Arsenal. Raphinha and Jack Harrison are certain starters out on the flanks and will carry a great deal of attacking threat for the home team.

Rodrigo Moreno ought to play in the hole behind the main striker, who ought to be former Manchester United man Daniel James, who can cause problems at the top with his pace. Joe Gelhardt would be an option from the bench for Marsch.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1):ย Meslier; Shackleton, Llorente, Cooper, Firpo; Klich, Phillips; Raphinha, Rodrigo, Harrison; James

Chelsea

Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ben Chilwell remain the only two confirmed absentees for Chelsea. However, midfielders Jorginho and N’Golo Kante are doubts for the fixture and will undergo late fitness tests to determine their availability. Tuchel will have an eye on the FA Cup final against Liverpool before he picks his starting XI for the clash versus Leeds on Wednesday.

It could lead to him resting some of his key players to protect them for the cup tie over the weekend. Senior defender Thiago Silva, for one, could be among those given a breather, with Trevoh Chalobah, Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger likely to form the three-man defensive unit that will shield Edouard Mendy in the Chelsea goal.

Cesar Azpilicueta should get the nod over Reece James at right wing-back seeing as the Englishman has had injury problems this term and Chelsea would be better served by not risking him. Marcos Alonso seemingly had a falling out with the manager during the clash against Wolves and might not make it to the starting XI, with Malang Sarr an option for the left-back slot.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mateo Kovacic pick themselves in the centre of the park, with both Jorginho and Kante doubtful, although Saul Niguez could be an option instead of Kovacic. Hakim Ziyech should get the nod as the creative force in the side, with Mason Mount set to be held back for the cup final. Romelu Lukaku, who found the back of the net against Wolves, should start up top, alongside Timo Werner.

Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2):ย Mendy; Chalobah, Christensen, Rudiger; Azpilicueta, Loftus-Cheek, Saul, Sarr; Ziyech; Lukaku, Werner

Key Stats

  • Chelsea have dropped 20 points from winning positions in the Premier League this season, last dropping more in a single campaign in 2015/16 (21).
  • Leeds United are without a victory in their last seven matches against Chelsea across all competitions (D2 L5). The last time they came out on top against the Blues was in December 2002 – a 2-0 home win.
  • Chelsea have scored just three goals in their previous ten Premier League away matches against Leeds, failing to find the back of the net on seven occasions in that run (W1 D4 L5).
  • Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch has lost two of his first four home league games in charge (W1 D1).
  • With 14 goals, Romelu Lukaku is Chelsea’s top scorer in all competitions this season. Seven of the 14 have come in the Premier League.

Player to Watch

Raphinha

As we get closer to the end of the 2021/22 Premier League campaign, speculations surrounding Raphinha’s future are starting to pick up the pace. The Leeds United winger has been one of their standout performers this season and finds himselfย being linked heavily with a summer move to Barcelona.

The Brazilian international is believed to be prioritising a switch to Camp Nou in the summer. So, he could very well be playing his last few games for Leeds United. And he would want to ensure that his final contribution for the club, provided he opts to leave, is to help ensure that the Whites do not suffer the fate of relegation.

Prediction

Leeds United 1-1 Chelsea

Leeds United are not in the best of moments and are now the favourites to become the third relegated team after Norwich City and Watford due to their inconsistent form. However, Chelsea themselves have been quite poor of late, with their ownership situation possibly having an impact on the squad.

And with the added pressure of the FA Cup final looming at the weekend, Thomas Tuchel could rotate his troops, which should give Leeds some chance of pulling off an upset. In the end, a scored draw could play out at Elland Road on Wednesday night.

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