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Chelsea logo
FA Cup | Fifth Round
Feb 28, 2024 at 7.30pm UK
Stamford Bridge
Leeds logo

3 - 2

Jackson (15'), Mudryk (37'), Gallagher (90')
Chalobah (40'), Fernandez (41'), Caicedo (49')
FT(HT: 2-1)
Fernandez (8', 59')
Firpo (69')

Preview: Chelsea vs. Leeds United - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Wednesday's FA Cup clash between Chelsea and Leeds United, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Reeling from their gut-wrenching EFL Cup final failure, a disconsolate Chelsea seek redemption in the FA Cup, as Leeds United head to Stamford Bridge for Wednesday's fifth-round showdown.

While the Blues were bested 1-0 by Liverpool in front of the Wembley crowds on Sunday, Daniel Farke's troops rejoiced in a 3-1 beating of Championship leaders Leicester City on Friday night.

Match preview

Chelsea players look dejected after losing the EFL Cup final on February 25, 2024© Reuters

Mauricio Pochettino's opposite number Jurgen Klopp could have put together a full XI of injured players before Sunday's EFL Cup final commenced, and with the Reds' absentee crisis worsening on the Wembley turf, the time was nigh for the Chelsea boss to finally end his English trophy hoodoo.

However, even as Klopp called upon the kids to reinforce his ravaged unit, a passive Chelsea lacked a cutting edge and were ostensibly playing for penalties as the clock ticked down in extra time, only to see Virgil van Dijk's glancing header nestle into the bottom corner to decide the destiny of the crown.

The Dutchman's contribution prolonged Pochettino's agonising wait for a first major honour in English football, one which he could still potentially snap in the FA Cup, where Chelsea thrashed Preston North End 4-0 in round one before an impressive fourth-round replay beating of Aston Villa.

Many an eyebrow was raised as the Blues played the Lions off the park at Villa Park - a ground where Unai Emery's men had been hitherto flawless - and Chelsea have progressed past the fifth round of the FA Cup six times in the last eight seasons, while winning 13 of their last 15 matches at this juncture.

The hosts' playing staff and crestfallen supporters are unlikely to have fully healed from Sunday's heartbreak by the time Leeds arrive at Stamford Bridge, where they are at risk of falling back into old habits; the Blues are winless in two straight home games after seven successive triumphs from December 3 to January 23.

Leeds United manager Daniel Farke reacts on February 24, 2024© Reuters

Speaking of winning streaks, a sixth consecutive victory across all competitions arrived for Leeds in Friday's tantalising Championship contest with leaders Leicester City, where Farke's men reduced the gap to the Foxes to just six points under the bright lights of Elland Road.

Wout Faes's 15th-minute header propelled Leicester into a slender advantage, which the visitors would cling onto heading into the final 10 minutes, but a late Foxes capitulation saw Connor Roberts, Archie Gray and Patrick Bamford complete a stunning turnaround for the Whites.

Still building up a head of steam in their quest for an immediate return to the big time, Leeds' second-tier record in 2024 remains unblemished - nine wins from nine games have arrived since the turn of the year - and the only contest that the Whites have not won since January 1 was their initial FA Cup fourth-round showdown with Plymouth Argyle.

However, Farke's men rectified their Elland Road errors with a 4-1 extra-time crushing in torrid conditions at Home Park, thus reaching the fifth round for the second year running, but they have failed to progress further since reaching the quarter-finals of the 2002-03 edition.

The Whites have to go back even further for their most recent success over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, which came in a December 1999 Premier League fixture, since when the Blues have earned six straight wins over their Championship counterparts at their West London home.

Chelsea FA Cup form:

Chelsea form (all competitions):

Leeds United FA Cup form:

Leeds United form (all competitions):

Team News

Chelsea's Christopher Nkunku on December 19, 2023© Reuters

While Liverpool left Wembley much worse for wear - albeit with winners' medals around their necks to boot - Chelsea did not pick up any fresh injury concerns in the EFL Cup final, although Thiago Silva's groin issue did not heal in time for the 39-year-old to be involved.

Whether Silva is fit enough to marshal the backline on Wednesday only time will tell - Marc Cucurella (ankle) is in the same boat - but Wesley Fofana (knee), Reece James (thigh), Lesley Ugochukwu (thigh), Romeo Lavia (thigh), Carney Chukwuemeka (ankle) and Benoit Badiashile (groin) remain unavailable.

However, Robert Sanchez was back in the matchday squad at Wembley and could be one of several players to benefit from the tight turnaround, a list which also comprises Trevoh Chalobah, Alfie Gilchrist, Noni Madueke, Christopher Nkunku and Mykhaylo Mudryk.

Cole Palmer is unlikely to be rested, though, as Pochettino revealed in his pre-game press conference that the hapless Christopher Nkunku faces another three to four weeks out with an unspecified injury. Another potential replacement for the Frenchman in the middle - Cesare Casadei - is cup-tied.

Leeds can empathise with Chelsea on the defensive injuries front, as all of Karl Darlow (finger), Pascal Struijk (groin)and Stuart Dallas (hip) are confined to the treatment room and will play no part in the fifth-round tie, but Sam Byram (leg) is back in training and might be available.

However, Byram's imminent return was the only piece of good news that Farke had to share in his pre-game press conference, as he revealed that Georginio Rutter (hip), Crysencio Summerville (ankle) and Patrick Bamford (calf/ankle) were serious doubts for the fixture.

Daniel James is expected to battle back from a bruise to make himself available, though, while Ethan Ampadu should be given the nod from the off against his former employers.

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Sanchez; Gusto, Gilchrist, Chalobah, Colwill; Gallagher, Fernandez; Madueke, Palmer, Mudryk; Sterling

Leeds United possible starting lineup:
Meslier; Roberts, Ampadu, Cooper, Firpo; Gruev, Kamara; Gnonto, Gray, Anthony; Piroe

SM words green background

We say: Chelsea 2-1 Leeds United

As well as finding the back of the net for fun, Leeds have also prided themselves on a rigid defensive structure in 2024; Faes's opener for Leicester on Friday was just the fourth goal that they have conceded in their 12-game unbeaten run.

A jelly-legged and confidence-depleted Chelsea may have their work cut out for them as a result, but Pochettino is blessed with a few options for change up front, and we still expect the Blues to restore a small sense of pride with a slender win to reach the quarter-finals.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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Leeds United celebrate scoring against Leicester City in the Championship on February 23, 2024.
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