Leeds United v Chelsea - the onus on Patrick Bamford, Rodrigo and Raphinha, as Kalvin Phillips faces a battle

Newly promoted Leeds United are up against it every week in the Premier League but Saturday's visit of Chelsea looks like the sternest of tests.

Friday, 12th March 2021, 11:43 am
BIG CHALLENGE - Former Chelsea player Patrick Bamford has to be at his clinical best when the Blues visit Leeds United tomorrow. Pic: Getty

The Blues' first visit to Elland Road since a League Cup clash in 2012, when they triumped 5-1 over Leeds, brings one of the form sides in the top flight to LS11.

Thomas Tuchel has added a defensive solidity that has made them incredibly difficult to score against and they are flying, yet to taste to defeat under their new boss. The start to his managerial tenure has almost made the reaction to Frank Lampard's sacking look a little hysterical.

Here are the keys for Leeds, ahead of tomorrow's game.

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KEY BATTLE

The final third

Against a team who are pressing attacks into submission and simply not conceding goals, Patrick Bamford is going to have to be at his sharpest, on and off the ball, and his most clinical. If Rodrigo gets the nod in the number 10 role it might require his best performance in a Leeds shirt to create chances. Both Raphinha and whoever plays on the opposite wing must be accurate with their deliveries and the Brazilian needs to come inside to support Bamford to good effect. Turning over the ball in dangerous positions will make life incredibly difficult for Leeds, so taking play into the final third and ensuring their attacks finish as close to the Chelsea goal as possible is vital.

CHELSEA KEY MAN

Kai Havertz

It's a good job Kalvin Phillips is back. Kai Havertz shone for Chelsea in a 'false nine' role for the Blues against Everton. He relished the freedom to roam around, created danger, forced an own goal and won a penalty. Phillips needs to dominate the space in front of the Leeds back line and ensure Havertz doesn't do to Leeds what he did to Everton.

GRAHAM SMYTH'S VERDICT

Life never seems to get any easier in the Premier League, does it? No matter the opponent, there are huge threats to be concerned about, whether it's from set-pieces like in Monday's game at West Ham, or a multitude of clever attackers like the ones Chelsea boast. This is as tough a game as it gets. It's difficult to envisage a scenario where Leeds keep the visitors out. It's difficult to envisage a win. Results wise Leeds aren't in form but they did at least create chances against West Ham and have deserved more from their recent results than they earned. They're going to need to be at their very best to get any kind of result from this one. Another 3-1 win for the Blues feels very possible.