YEP Jury: Why Chelsea test looks a bridge too far for Leeds United

NOT one of our Yorkshire Evening Post Leeds United fans’ jurors is giving the Whites a chance of victory at Stamford Bridge today.

By Steve Heptinstall
Saturday, 11th December 2021, 7:44 am

Like the bookies, the panel’s united belief is that Leeds are rank outsiders - and only two of them reckon the Whites will even get on the scoreboard.

The small Leeds squad has been racked by injuries all season so far and there doesn’t appear to be any let-up in that department. Add to that the fact that Chelsea are genuine Premier League title contenders, and you can see where the panel is coming from ...

Check out what they have to say, and see if you agree:

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Leeds United fans are concerned about Saturday's Premier League trip to Chelsea without Kalvin Phillips. Picture: Tony Johnson/JPIMedia.

DAVID WATKINS

On the back of garnering five points, showing the Premier League our fighting spirit is unbowed and seeing the impact on the side that the return of two top players can make, we were all looking forward to measuring ourselves against one of the undoubted best in class this season; Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. What a difference a couple of days make!

With predictable Leeds bad luck, no sooner do we get two back than we lose them again and add Kalvin Phillips and Liam Cooper to the crocked list for good measure! The football gods still don’t like us, do they?

There is uncertainty about who is injured and for how long but it sounds as if we will be without Patrick Bamford, Cooper and Phillips for the latest venture south of Watford where we never do very well anyway!

Leeds United fans are concerned about Saturday's Premier League trip to Chelsea without Patrick Bamford. Picture: Tony Johnson/JPIMedia.

At full strength, and with Chelsea likely to be resting senior players owing to the many games they are playing, and with my rose-tinted specs on, I’d have probably predicted Leeds could get a draw but this week’s news has resigned me to another defeat in the capital.

Prediction: Chelsea 3 Leeds United 1.

KEITH INGHAM

Leeds face the toughest run of the season without a doubt when they face three of the top six and Arsenal in the games up to and including Boxing Day.

Leeds United fans are concerned about Saturday's Premier League trip to Chelsea without captain Liam Cooper. Picture: Tony Johnson/JPIMedia.

It would test the best of squads but, with Leeds having one of the smallest in the Premier League, they are really up against it. Leeds will be severely depleted when they travel to meet last season’s Champion League winners and one of the favourites to add the Premier League title to Thomas Tuchel’s trophy collection.

The ex-PSG manager has settled well in West London and added steel to their rearguard to go with the impressive array in the forward positions.

They have only lost two games this season including last week’s 3-2 defeat at West Ham.

Their only other defeat was 1-0 at Man City back in September.

Even my heart can’t give Leeds much of a chance at Stamford Bridge and it could be an long 90-plus minutes if Chelsea get an early goal.

Not looking forward to this game at all; it may get embarrassing.

Prediction: Chelsea 4 Leeds United 0.

JACOB STARR

Leeds will have to put in their best performance of the season if they are to come away with anything from Stamford Bridge today.

Chelsea were dealt a surprise defeat at West Ham last weekend so Thomas Tuchel’s side will be keen not to lose any more ground on Liverpool and Man City, in what is looking like a three-horse race for the title.

The Blues have drawn their last two home league games, though, so there could be some hope for the Whites.

The task will be made more difficult with the absences of Kalvin Phillips, Liam Cooper and Patrick Bamford.

Phillips and Cooper were both forced off through injury and the former in particular will be a huge miss against a squad with such talent.

Illan Meslier, meanwhile, has become the youngest Premier League player to reach 50 appearances - what a signing he has proven to be, by the way.

The Frenchman will most certainly be required to be in form if Marcelo Bielsa’s men wish to cause a shock in London.

Prediction: Chlesea 2 Leeds United 0.

ANDY RHODES

Despite another dramatic ending to a game last weekend, you could forgive Leeds for viewing their next four games as somewhat daunting.

As we all know by now, Saturday is the start of a run against Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool, a series of fixtures that would worry any side. Off the back of the Brentford point, I was slightly more optimistic than I am now, with rumours circulating of yet more injuries in the United camp.

Chelsea, albeit fielding a changed team, were far from their best in midweek in Russia and are said to have injury concerns of their own. Raphinha could again be the key to unlocking the door while Adam Forshaw’s running stats will be challenged as he takes on a formidable Chelsea attack.

The bookies would tell you this game will end only one way. But, with Leeds United, there’s always that glimmer of hope hidden in their unpredictability.

Prediction: Chelsea 3 Leeds United 0.

MIKE GILL

The Brentford result and performance wasn’t ideal but at least the game finished on a high.

Unfortunately, news is emerging of further injuries to key players and this has ‘knocked the froth of the top of the pint’.

What United have not lost is their fighting spirit and, in a season which abounds with adversity, they will have to dig deep to get any sort of result from this next game at Stamford Bridge.

Kalvin Phillips is irreplaceable in a like-for-like sense but solutions have to be found and will be.

Chelsea are a formidable opponent at any time but, since the appointment of Thomas Tuchel, they have gone from strength to strength. They have a few injury concerns as well but significantly greater resources to deal with the problem.

They are fighting a fascinating battle with Manchester City and Liverpool in the best Premier League tussle in years.

All three sides will be expecting to beat Leeds in the coming weeks ... but will they?

Prediction: Chelsea 2 Leeds United 1.