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

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Premier League clash between Chelsea and Leeds United, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Up to 2,000 fans will be allowed into Stamford Bridge for the first league meeting between Chelsea and Leeds United since May 2004 on Saturday evening.

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard already has a storied history against Leeds as a manager, and he could add another chapter to that this weekend with victory enough to take his side temporarily top of the Premier League table.


Match preview

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard pictured o October 17, 2020© Reuters

From Spygate to the Championship playoffs and now to the return of fans - Lampard's managerial meetings with Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds always seem to be notable for one reason or another.

The two parties are on a less even footing now than they were during the Derby County versus Leeds days, with Lampard instead looking to steer Chelsea back to the top of the Premier League table this weekend.

The Blues will certainly be firm favourites, having won seven of their last eight matches across all competitions and not lost inside 90 minutes since September - a run which now stretches to 15 games.

Only league leaders Tottenham Hotspur have prevented Chelsea from winning in their eight outings since October 24, and they bounced back from that goalless draw last weekend with a 4-0 hammering of Sevilla in midweek, Olivier Giroud helping himself to all of the goals in Spain.

With top spot in Group E now secured they will turn their attention to reaching the same heights domestically, with last weekend's draw at home to Spurs neither enhancing nor undermining their title credentials.

Chelsea's Timo Werner shoots against Tottenham Hotspur on November 29, 2020© Reuters

Chelsea certainly look like more credible challengers now than they did earlier this season, which is largely down to their improvement in defence.

The Spurs stalemate handed them their league-high fifth clean sheet of the campaign, while they have now conceded just once in their last five league games compared to nine times in their opening five.

Leeds have proven themselves more than capable of breaching the best defences in the league already this season, but Chelsea have only ever lost three home matches against promoted opposition in the Premier League era, winning an unrivalled 68 of their 83 such contests.

The stats are against the visitors for this one, then, and their record in London will not do anything to increase their optimism, having won just one of their last 21 league trips to the capital.

Leeds' last four top-flight games in London have all ended in defeat by an aggregate score of 12-1, but those all happened a long time ago and it is a very different side which makes the trip on Saturday.

Raphinha celebrates scoring for Leeds United against Everton in the Premier League on November 28, 2020© Reuters

There is evidence enough of that in their away form alone, with last weekend's 1-0 win at Everton being their third on the road already this season - as many as they managed throughout the whole of their previous Premier League campaign in 2003-04.

Notably, Leeds have kept clean sheets in all three of those wins - at Sheffield United, Aston Villa and Everton - whereas their two defeats away from home have both seen them ship four goals - against Liverpool and Crystal Palace.

Considering Chelsea have the joint-best attacking record in the division, the odds may be in favour of this match being closer to the latter, but Leeds have kept clean sheets in both of their games since returning from the international break.

It is always difficult to predict which Leeds will turn up, though, and their inconsistency as far as results are concerned is laid bare in the league table, with four wins, four defeats and two draws from their 10 outings so far.

Nevertheless, Bielsa's men are closer to the top of the table than they are to the relegation zone heading into December, which is a position they would have gladly accepted had it been offered to them before the season began.

Chelsea Premier League form: DDWWWD
Chelsea form (all competitions): WWWWDW

Leeds United Premier League form: LWLLDW



Team News

Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud celebrates scoring against Sevilla on December 2, 2020© Reuters

Lampard has a full squad to choose from for this match, with Ben Chilwell his only minor injury doubt after remaining as an unused sub in midweek.

The full-back is available for selection, though, meaning that Lampard's only headaches come in trying to keep the long list of talent at his disposal happy.

Chelsea's Premier League form is good enough that Lampard can largely stick to what he has been using so far, which should mean returns for Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, N'Golo Kante, Mason Mount, Thiago Silva, Reece James, Kurt Zouma and Chilwell after sitting out in midweek.

However, Giroud's four-goal haul in Seville makes it almost impossible to leave him out for the weekend, so Tammy Abraham may have to settle for a place on the bench.

Leeds have Diego Llorente back available following a groin injury, but the Spain international will likely again be made to wait for his debut with Bielsa hinting that he would play for the Under-23s before he makes his first-team bow.

Pablo Hernandez and Jamie Shackleton are also expected to turn out for the Under-23s before returning to Bielsa's side, while Adam Forshaw remains sidelined.

There is better news on the fitness of Jack Harrison, though, with the attacker expected to start again after overcoming a minor leg problem.

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Mendy; James, Zouma, Silva, Chilwell; Kovacic, Kante, Mount; Ziyech, Giroud, Werner

Leeds United possible starting lineup:
Meslier; Ayling, Koch, Cooper, Dallas; Raphinha, Klich, Phillips, Alioski; Harrison; Bamford


SM words green background

We say: Chelsea 2-0 Leeds United

This promises to be another fascinating showdown between Lampard and Bielsa, and we are backing Chelsea to come out on top in front of their small section of returning supporters.

Leeds have the quality to cause Chelsea problems, but they have only scored three goals in their last four games whereas Chelsea's defence looks like the most reliable in the league right now.


Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 2.5:data



Video prediction

Watch the Sports Mole Football Shorts prediction for this game below:


ID:424789:cQx

How you voted: Chelsea vs Leeds

Chelsea
77.3%
Draw
10.9%
Leeds United
11.8%
942
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Son Heung-min and Harry Kane celebrate after Tottenham Hotspur take the lead against Burnley on October 26, 2020
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Todays Game Header Right
Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester UnitedMan Utd19124336251140
2Manchester CityMan City18115231131838
3Leicester CityLeicester19122535211438
4Liverpool1997337221534
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs1896333171633
6Everton1710252821732
7West Ham UnitedWest Ham199552722532
8Aston Villa1792631181329
9Chelsea1985633231029
10Southampton188552621529
11Arsenal198382319427
12Leeds UnitedLeeds187293034-423
13Crystal Palace196582233-1123
14Wolverhampton WanderersWolves196492129-822
15Burnley185491022-1219
16Newcastle UnitedNewcastle1954101832-1419
17Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton193882229-717
18Fulham1826101527-1212
19West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom1925121543-2811
20Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd1912161032-225

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