As one of the truly classic rivalries in English football, Chelsea and Leeds hate each other. The rivalry is decades old, and transcends both the idea of geography and competition. Put simply, the two clubs see the world in a totally different way. This tie, then, is an essential one for both sides. If Leeds win, they move closer to the European spots once again. If Chelsea win, they further cement their grip on a UEFA Champions League spot.
What, then, is likely to happen in what will be a feisty, intense match-up?
Leeds will be without quite a few players, with the likes of Pascal Strujik, Pablo Hernandez, and Robin Koch all likely to miss out. So, too, will Jamie Shackleton most likely. All four have struggled at times to make a real impact on the season, but they are further depth to be missing out for Leeds.
The good news is that talisman Kalvin Phillips is back in the centre of the park, and the return of other players like Rodrigo Moreno and Ian Poveda offers extra depth for Marcelo Bielsa to pick from. Jack Harrison will likely return to the starting line-up after being a sub in recent times, and we might also see recent starter Helder Costa drop back to the bench after failing to impress recently.
With so many injuries and missing players otherwise, Leeds will likely be limited in what changes they can make.
Chelsea arrive at this game knowing they have an important UEFA Champions League tie with Atletico Madrid around the corner. So, expect some rotation with the likes of Andreas Christensen set to continue his return to the first-team picture. However, we could see Tuchel give some of his players who are slowly finding form, such as Kai Havertz, more gametime.
One player who might not make the game is Tammy Abraham, who has been struggling with a niggling injury. It might also mean gametime for veterans who have been out injured, with the likes of Thiago Silva fit once again after a period of time out injured.
It will be interesting to see who plays in goals, though, with Edouard Mendy making the position his own recently. Given the run of games set to arrive, though, Tuchel might look to rotate as far back as his goalkeeper in this one.
With the Blues undefeated in nine games and with seven clean sheets in nine, Chelsea are the ideal antidote to the cavalier, attacking nature of Leeds. For that reason, you might see a slightly less exciting game than we have come to expect from Leeds.
Their style revolves around both teams coming to play to an extent, and Tuchel has already shown he has no problems with ‘ruining’ a game. Therefore, expect a tighter and stodgier affair than many would have predicted when the fixture calendar was drawn. Chelsea, though, should have the defensive solidity and nous to see this one through and make it 10 unbeaten in the league for Chelsea.
Result: 2-1 Chelsea