Chelsea cruise past struggling Leeds to solidify their Champions League spot for next season.
Written by Yendi (@ftblYendi).
Edited by Ryan Bellenie (@BellenieSport).
Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea have been struggling for form recently and even more so on home soil. 55% of their league points have come on the road, where the Blues have often found their groove and made things click. On Wednesday night, the London club travelled to Yorkshire where they faced a Leeds side currently fighting a fierce relegation battle.
In the last meeting between the two teams during the festive period, a last minute Jorginho penalty rescued all tree points for the Blues. Similarly to now, Chelsea were also hunting a victory back then in attempt of bouncing back.
Tuchel’s side travelled to Elland Road still without the recovering Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ben Chilwell, two of the teams most notable absentees over the course of our season. Ahead of the FA Cup Final against Liverpool, senior squad members César Azpilicueta and Thiago Silva were rested, with Trevoh Chalobah consequently receiving a run out following a long absence from the team. Jorginho also returned and captained the team having had a bit part role for the last few matches.
After a reported ‘heated exchange’ with Tuchel, Marcos Alonso notably kept his place in the starting eleven. Former Blues academy product Lewis Bate started for the hosts, who were additionally boosted by the return of captain Liam Cooper.
Seemingly revitalised from the disappointing late draw against Wolves, the visitors started the game rapidly, with a cross field ball from Antonio Rüdiger finding Reece James, who was able to beat Pascal Struijk before finding Mason Mount on the edge of the box.
The 23-year-old then expertly finished with a first-time postage stamp shot, which was driven into the top right corner.
The first half continued in Leeds’ infamously high tempo style. However, their desire as it has so often this season boiled over into undisciplined challenges with Dan James receiving a straight red card following a studs up challenge on Mateo Kovačić. The Croatian was later forced off on the half hour mark.
James wasn’t the only rash player on his side, as Kalvin Phillips also received a yellow card for a challenge on Christian Pulisic late on in the half. Romelu Lukaku, who’s movement looked sharp and lively right from kick-off, had the ball in the net after expertly lobbing Illan Meslier. The goal was instead ruled out for a fractional offside.
As a result, Chelsea took a deserved one-goal lead into the break.
The second half got off to a slow start with nothing to really show for the opening 10 minutes.
On the 55th minute, the Blues got going with some good ball movement as Jorginho found Mason Mount, who then set ball for Christian Pulisic. The American took a touch on to his left and then finished brilliantly into the bottom left corner to double his side’s lead.
Pulisic had another golden opportunity for a second after Jorginho played him through, but was unable to convert the chance from close range.
Leeds began to grow into the game, generating a few crosses from the left-hand side. To their frustration, the hosts were unable to convert both the headers.
During their attempt to come back into the game, the ball was given away in transition to Hakim Ziyech, who was found in a two-on-two attack with Romelu Lukaku in support.
The Moroccan eventually played in the Chelsea number nine, who after waiting too long to take the short, managed to work an angle and fire emphatically into the net, a resounding goal to cap off a resounding victory.
After the Whistle:
A win is always something to be happy about. However, with Chelsea’s inconsistencies as of late, caution cannot be thrown to the wind ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup Final clash with Liverpool.
Nevertheless, the visitors’ work to monopolise the midfield and thoroughly restrict Leeds’ attacking output shows a level of control that has been seen scarcely since the late March international break. The attack looked well gelled and Romelu Lukaku over the last two games is finally beginning to look like the dynamic intelligent forward Chelsea payed just under £100 million for last summer.
His resurgence as well as Thomas Tuchel’s confirmation that he will be a big part of next season’s plans bodes well for the team, as his movement in the match allowed both Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount to come into the game and create more of an attacking ecosystem.
The hope is this performance will spur the team on for Saturday’s Wembley stand-off with Liverpool.
Leeds United 0-3 Chelsea.
- Mount (4’)
- Pulisic (55’)
- Lukaku (83’)
BBC Sports Player of the Match:
Mason Mount (Chelsea)
Leeds United (5-4-1): Meslier; Raphinha (78’), Koch, Llorente, Cooper, Struijk; James, Phillips, Bate (59’); Harisson (37’); Rodrigo.
- Subs: Firpo (37’), Klich (59’) Gelhardt (78’).
Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Chalobah, Chirstensen, Rüdiger; James (78’), Jorginho, Kovačić (30’), Alonso, Mount, Pulisic (79’), Lukaku.
- Subs: Loftus-Cheek (30’), Azpilicueta (78’), Ziyech (78’).
Leeds United (32%) vs Chelsea (68%).
Leeds United (5) vs Chelsea (17).
Shots on Target:
Leeds United (0) vs Chelsea (4).
Leeds United (1) vs Chelsea (5).
Leeds United (10) vs Chelsea (14).
- (credit | BBC Sport).
- (credit | Chelsea Football Club).