Chelsea and Tottenham served up a mega derby at Stamford Bridge last Sunday. On and off the pitch, they went at it gung-ho. At the end of it all, neither manager was willing to let go, literally and figuratively. The eventual result seemed just about fair, although Chelsea will be disappointed to drop points in the manner that they did.
But now, Thomas Tuchel’s side must move past the result or the performance as they visit Leeds this Sunday.
After a tough last season, essentially salvaged by Jesse Marsch, the Whites have begun the new season on the right foot. They have garnered four points from the opening two matches.
And yet, their biggest test until now will be against the Blues at Elland Road. While Marsch has lost key players in Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha to Manchester City and Barcelona respectively, they have recruited well. Tyler Adams joined from RB Leipzig to replace Phillips and Brenden Aaronson has made the move from RB Salzburg. Rasmus Kristensen (Salzburg) will also be required to solve a niggling problem at right back.
With how both teams have prosecuted their opening fixtures, it is fair to anticipate an end-to-end encounter.
In 20 matches, Chelsea have won nine, Leeds United have won four and the remaining seven have been draws.
The latest of this fixture, in May, was a comprehensive 3-0 Chelsea win with Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic and Romelu Lukaku all on the scoresheet.
It was a close affair at Stamford Bridge in December which took a converted Jorginho penalty at the death to guarantee the points in a 3-2 game. An extraordinary afternoon in London ended up producing three penalties.
The visitors have dominated this relationship in the last two decades. The last time Chelsea lost a fixture of this kind was in December 2002.
How Both Teams Have Fared This Season
Leeds had a very impressive pre-season, winning two out of three matches. The best of their wins was a 6-2 defeat of Cagliari.
They came from behind to beat Wolves 2-1 in the league opener. However, they lost steam in the second half of the game against Southampton, surrendering a 2-goal lead to head back home with just a point (W-D-W-W-D).
Chelsea, on the other hand, had an indifferent pre-season, mostly played in the United States. They suffered a 4-0 defeat to Arsenal in the Florida Cup final after edging narrowly past Club America and Charlotte.
The former champions have considerably improved in the Premier League. A lackluster 1-0 win at home to Everton spiked quickly to a classic, breathtaking 2-2 draw against Tottenham (D-L-W-W-D).
Patrick Bamford picked up a knock during the match against Southampton.
Liam Cooper (Achilles), Leo Hjelde (calf contusion), Luke Ayling (knee), Stuart Dallas (femur), and Junior Firpo(MCL) are all expected to be out of the game.
Predicted XI: Illan Meslier, Pascal Strujk, Diego Llorente, Robin Koch, Rasmus Kristensen, Tyler Adams, Marc Roca; Brenden Aaronson; Jack Harrison, Rodrigo Moreno, Daniel James.
N’golo Kante was substituted in the second half against Tottenham after sustaining a hamstring injury. He will therefore miss the trip to Elland Road.
Matteo Kovacic has a knee injury and Marcos Alonso is trying to finalise his transfer to Barcelona.
Predicted XI: Édouard Mendy, Kalidou Koulibaly, Thiago Silva, César Azpilicueta, Ben Chilwell, Jorginho, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Reece James, Raheem Sterling, Kai Havertz, Mason Mount (3-5-2)
Leeds have been more assured in defence under Marsch. In truth, the hosts were largely plagued by injuries last term. They have been more measured in attack, taking fewer risks.
On Sunday, Koch will partner Llorente in an attempt tocurtail the dynamic movements of the Chelsea forwards. Adams will be expected to bring the right energy and aggression in stopping midfielder, Loftus-Cheek who is adept at driving the ball with purpose into the final third and popping up late in the box.
Slowly, but surely, Rodrigo is finding his feet at Elland Road. The Spaniard received huge praises after his hat-trick in pre-season against Cagliari. Last weekend, he also came up with the goods, scoring a brace. Against a well-drilled defence, marshalled by Thiago Silva, he will need to step up and be counted.
Tuchel must know that Sterling is not going to be the solution to his team’s obvious scoring problem this season. For now, his defenders seem to be bailing them out with Kalidou Koulibaly settling in nicely.
Havertz, Mason Mount, Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic have scored 61 goals in 286 Premier League games combined. Last term, Havertz missed 12 big chances and scored from only 10.8% of his shots. The German manager will need to sort this out quickly, with the transfer window still open.
Under 3.5 goals @1.45
Away team double chance @1.15
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