Leeds vs Chelsea predictions: Blues can cruise past old foes
Stamford Bridge provided the pyrotechnics when Chelsea clashed with local rivals Tottenham last weekend and there could be more fireworks when they clash with old foes Leeds at Elland Road.
The rivalry has calmed down since its explosive heyday in the 60s and 70s but there remains no love lost between the two clubs.
Blues boss Thomas Tuchel has a temporarily suspended touchline ban hanging over him so is likely to be on his best behaviour but there will be plenty of passion pouring down from the stands as Leeds supporters seek to rattle their old rivals.
Tuchel faces a familiar problem in midfield after N’Golo Kante limped off against Spurs with a hamstring injury that could rule him out for over a month.
The Frenchman will join Mateo Kovacic in the treatment room, leaving Ruben Loftus-Cheek likely to partner Jorginho in the centre of the park.
Striker Armando Broja is also absent through injury, while wing-back Marcos Alonso remains out of the squad as he awaits the completion of his protracted transfer to Barcelona.
Leeds manager Jesse Marsch has concerns over a host of first-team players.
Midfielder Stuart Dallas is expected to be out until 2023 as he recovers from a fractured femur, while full-backs Junior Firpo and Luke Ayling remain two or three weeks away as both recover from knee injuries.
Centre-back Liam Cooper and striker Patrick Bamford both face late fitness tests but forward Joe Gelhardt is set to return as he has recovered from a dead leg picked up in training.
Chelsea scored three goals in both victories over Leeds last season but were aided by a first-half red card for Daniel James at Elland Road and needed a 90th-minute Jorginho penalty to seal the 3-2 win at Stamford Bridge.
However, that made it three out of the last four meetings in which the visitors had scored three goals against the Whites, with the outlier a 0-0 draw at Elland Road in March 2021.
While Marsch’s men beat Wolves at home on the opening game of the season, they were fortunate to do so, as indicated by the fact that they managed an expected goals rating of just 0.6 to Wolves’ 1.3.
That made it 11 home games since Leeds last recorded a higher expected goals rating than the visitors still in the Premier League, with the Whites losing seven and drawing two of those matches.
The inability of Marsch’s side to dominate opponents is unlikely to change against a Chelsea team who won 16 of their 20 clashes against teams in the bottom half last season, losing only two.
Despite the disappointing and arguably undeserved loss of two points at home to Tottenham last weekend, Chelsea supporters will have been pleased with their team’s performance.
New signings Kalidou Koulibaly, Raheem Sterling and Marc Cucurella have all slotted in seamlessly and despite the departure of several big names, the Blues have started the season brighter than they ended 2021-22.
The increasingly frequent injuries to Kante and Kovacic are an issue that could cause Tuchel problems over the course of an intense season but, for now, he has enough cover.
Leeds have taken four points from two matches but supporters will be annoyed at how their team switched off against a struggling Southampton side to drop points from 2-0 up and the victory over Wolves, while welcome, was fortunate on the balance of play.
Against a Chelsea team fired up after last weekend’s perceived injustice, the hosts could find themselves under pressure from the off and subjected to another three-goal barrage.