Chelsea vs Leeds – Analysis, Prediction, Team News
Saturday 4th March 2023
As part of our weekend Premier League predictions, we cast an eye over Leeds’ trip to Stamford Bridge. Problems are mounting for the Blues – can they get back on track against lowly Leeds? Read on with our Chelsea vs Leeds prediction.
Chelsea vs Leeds Match Preview
What hasn’t already been said about this season’s iteration of Chelsea? Unless you’ve been living under a rock inside a cave on a deserted island, you’ll know all about Chelsea’s extended poor run of form. Last weekend’s uninspiring defeat away to rivals Spurs, who weren’t much better either, is emblematic of a disjointed team that lacks any sort of consistent attacking threat. Manager Graham Potter emphasised that Chelsea had ‘control’ in the first half but that was, in our opinion at least, a man enduring difficult times clutching at straws.
With just 14 matches remaining, Chelsea have now lost more games than they won. Potter’s men have won two of their last 15 Premier League matches, scoring an incredibly poor 8 times during that spell. Many, including ourselves, have been guilty of assuming that once Chelsea ‘click’, then their attacking output and, more crucially, results will improve but there are precious few signs of that happening. On a positive note, somewhat unbelievably, Chelsea remain within striking distance of a European place, 8 points adrift of both Liverpool and Fulham but 8 points is a tough ask for this team.
Leeds have had their own well-publicised issues this season which are in effect a continuation of their issues last season under former coach Marcelo Bielsa. While Bielsa enjoyed a fine few seasons in charge, Leeds’ lack of squad depth was laid bare, results fell off a cliff and they’ve never really recovered since then as former RB Salzburg manager Jesse Marsch has since come and gone. Though perhaps it’s unfair to criticise Leeds in the same way one would criticise their better-resourced opponents, the fact is that Leeds are in the middle of a relegation dogfight.
Despite this doom and gloom, Leeds managed to bag a vital win over fellow strugglers Southampton. While Gracia’s men again struggled to create clear chances and struggled on the xG stat (which if nothing else tells you about clear chances), a workmanlike display ensured that Southampton didn’t do much of consequence either, and Firpo was able to grab a winner thanks to a bit of quick thinking from Summerville and a nice flick from Harrison to put him in front of goal.
Injuries and Suspensions
Might Not Play:
Will Not Play: Azpilicueta, Broja, Kante, Mendy, Pulisic, Silva
Might Not Play: Sinisterra, Struijk
Will Not Play: Dallas, Forshaw, Rodrigo
Chelsea vs Leeds Lineups (Predicted)
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Arrizabalaga, Chilwell, Badiashile, Silva, James; Fernandez, Kovacic; Sterling, Joao Felix, Ziyech; Havertz
Leeds (4-2-3-1): Meslier; Firpo, Koch, Wober, Ayling; Adams, McKennie; Gnonto, Aaronson, Harrison; Bamford
Chelsea vs Leeds Analysis
Chelsea Need to Get Back to Basics
We all know the drill in modern football – a new manager comes in with a different ‘philosophy’ (otherwise known as tactical approach), and the players eagerly set to work learning the game from scratch in order to impress the new footballing visionary in charge. While this may seem somewhat acerbic, it irks us that so many fans, pundits and generally people who should know better don’t seem to understand that change is a gradual process and depends as much upon the players at the manager’s disposal as it does the manager and his coaching staff (note the ‘and his coaching staff’).
Chelsea have not had a problem with resources. They don’t have a problem with the quality at their disposal, bar perhaps an out-and-out goalscorer. What they lack is cohesion. Apart from a few bright moments against Dortmund in the Champions League where they could claim to be somewhat hard done by, they just don’t look like scoring. It’s as though their new tactical approach is either something that they’re not capable of implementing when they’re out there, or they’re not buying into the ‘philosophy’.
Therefore, what Chelsea need is for one or more of their talented players to essentially be brave, break the tactical mould and attempt a defence-splitting pass here, a surging run there… There is enough attacking talent within that team to create dangerous opportunities provided they’re not going through the motions and waiting for somebody else to do it. This is perhaps part of the problem – Havertz, Sterling, Joao Felix, Ziyech and Pulisic are all used to being part of the supporting cast. Mudryk is a new signing coming into difficult circumstances and is currently in and out of the team so is relatively blameless.
Leeds Appear to be More Focused
Normally we wouldn’t make such an obvious observation, but mentality matters in sport and at least we can say that Leeds haven’t appeared to be demoralised in recent weeks despite their predicament. In fact, at home to Manchester United they played good football at times and were somewhat unlucky not to get a positive result (though they sort of fluked a result at Old Trafford, so swings and roundabouts). While you’d expect a relegation-threatened side to be inconsistent, and indeed they were poor in losing away to Everton 1-0 two weeks ago, Chelsea seem far more listless – though admittedly more defensively competent.
Then there’s the matter of the reverse fixture. Leeds won that 3-0 in a match that mirrored all of the problems that Chelsea have right now. Ordinarily, with a team as talented as Chelsea’s you’d fear the inevitable reaction as the opposition manager, but Chelsea haven’t been getting any reaction at all in recent weeks. When facing a team like Chelsea with the players they have, control without threat is the best of both worlds for the opposition. It allows them to defend in numbers relatively comfortably, knowing that they can cope with their threat, and then break into space. Leeds do have competent attacking threats despite their lowly league position, and they can use them to good effect here.
This really could go either way, which is a poor indictment of not just the Graham Potter era, but what came before it following the ownership crisis and the subsequent scattergun transfer policy. We can’t confidently predict Leeds to keep a clean sheet despite Chelsea’s struggles in front of goal. On the other hand, we can’t back this Chelsea team to score more than once – that’s a vanishingly rare occurrence and if they do it’ll be because they’ve played far above their current level.
Leeds will get opportunities to attack in transition, and we feel that they’re capable of creating enough decent chances to take one of them. Chelsea have accomplished midfielders, but McKennie and Adams are awkward to play against and will surely bring their high-energy brand of central midfield play with them to Stamford Bridge. We don’t see things getting better for Chelsea here.
Chelsea 1-1 Leeds
Chelsea vs Leeds Betting Tip – Draw Odds:
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