Leeds vs Chelsea
Saturday’s early Premier League kick-off played out in Yorkshire, as Leeds United hosted Chelsea.
The Blues headed into the tie on a sensational run of form, which had seen them notch an 11-game unbeaten run across all competitions under new boss, Thomas Tuchel.
Such fine form has seen Chelsea climb into the top-four, and to within four points of 2nd.
However, the Londoners’ spot in next season’s Champions League is still by no means guaranteed, with West Ham, who have a game in hand, only two points behind in 5th ahead of Saturday’s action.
As a result, a win against Leeds was very much needed. However, the Blues, in the end, were unable to find a telling goal against a generally leaky Whites backline.
Pulisic & Ziyech handed rare starts as Chelsea held by Leeds
The tie, unsurprisingly, started in end-to-end fashion. Tyler Roberts had the ball in the Chelsea net, but it was ruled out for offside.
This was followed shortly after by Luke Ayling nearly scoring a crazy own goal, after the ball deflected off the defender and onto the Leeds crossbar:
We NEARLY witnessed a very bizarre own-goal here! 😳
Ayling clears the ball straight into Llorente and the ball ricochets off the bar!
So close to an opener… pic.twitter.com/Dgb1jg2xah
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) March 13, 2021
Roberts then went down the other end to bounce a looping effort off Edouard Mendy’s crossbar 15 minutes in.
And Leeds, from here, continued to enjoy a fair share of early dominance. However, the Peacocks were dealt a big blow 35 minutes in, when Patrick Bamford was forced off.
Hakim Ziyech then floated a lovely ball into the path of Kai Havertz, who struck his effort straight into the hands of Illan Meslier.
But despite the entertaining opening half, and a number of half-chances for both sides, the score remained locked at 0-0 heading into the interval.
The second 45 began in very much the same vein as the first, with chances at both ends.
Cesar Azpilicueta played in Kai Havertz just minutes after kick-off. Some questionable defending on the part of Kalvin Phillips then allowed the German to get his shot off, which the Leeds keeper saved fairly easily.
Chelsea’s early second-half pressure continued, with the away outfit no doubt frustrated that they were not 1-0 up.
Leeds, though, continued to pose a threat, and forced a great last-ditch save from Mendy 54 minutes in.
With the score still level after the hour-mark, Tuchel opted to make a double change, bringing on Timo Werner and Reece James for Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech.
The duo were handed rare starts against Leeds, with Pulisic’s outing on Saturday having marked the longest he has spent on the pitch in a league clash under Tuchel.
In terms of how the pair fared, Pulisic was pretty impressive down the right flank, and caused Leeds a few problems, especially in the first 45.
Ziyech, on the other hand, proved a rather frustrating figure to watch against Leeds. The Moroccan was deployed through the middle, but offered very little, and gave the ball away several times. He did, though, still produce a couple of decent passes to set up chances when drifting out to his favoured right-hand side.
The aforementioned substitutions, however, did very little to impact the game. And it was actually Leeds who had the next big chance, as Rodrigo fired a free header straight at Mendy.
Callum Hudson-Odoi was introduced for Chelsea’s final change of the day, which saw the visitors revert back to their 3-4-3 system.
In the end, though, Chelsea were unable to find a crucial opener, and were forced to settle for a point, handing the advantage to West Ham in the race for 4th spot.
This article was edited by Conor Laird.
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