Sunday, March 26, 2023

The Numbers Game: Old enemies reunited as Chelsea hope Leeds battle triggers upturn

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 3 Mar 2023


Chelsea versus Leeds United is one of English football’s spiciest rivalries, and with so much on the line this weekend, the latest instalment could be phenomenally tasty.

If Chelsea are going to make a charge for the European places, they surely have no time left to lose, while Leeds are fighting to stave off relegation.

Graham Potter is battling to prove himself as head coach of Chelsea, while new Leeds boss Javi Gracia will be looking to achieve a feat last accomplished by Terry Venables, a man who has had a boot in both these camps.

It is a game that evokes images of the likes of Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris and Jack Charlton taking no prisoners in rugged battles, and those that shirk on Saturday will likely pay a high price.

Ahead of kick-off, Stats Perform previews the big game with help from Opta’s best game data.

Return to the 90s

It was more the 1960s and 1970s when the hostility between these sides was at its height, but you have to flash back to the decade when the Premier League was born to pick up on some key context for this newest battle of Stamford Bridge.

Leeds are looking to complete their first league double over Chelsea since their First Division title-winning campaign of 1991-92, when they won 3-0 at home and 1-0 away. This season, Leeds have won 3-0 at Elland Road against Chelsea, a result that was soon followed by Thomas Tuchel’s departure, so what price another 1-0 win for the Whites?

Chelsea enter the weekend having not scored more than once in any of their last nine Premier League games. Indeed, they have managed a meagre four goals during this dry run. Only once have Chelsea experienced a longer such run in the competition, going 17 Premier League games without netting more than once between August and December 1993.

Potter’s team have won just two of their last 15 games (D6 L7) in the league, Chelsea’s fewest over a period of 15+ games in the league since snatching just two victories from 19 matches between December 1994 and April 1995 under Glenn Hoddle. This lean run didn’t stop Hoddle being appointed England boss barely 12 months later.

It was right at the end of the decade when Leeds last won in the league at Chelsea, with Stephen McPhail’s double earning a 2-0 road success for the West Yorkshire visitors in December 1999, taking David O’Leary’s team to the top of the table. Chelsea are unbeaten in their last six at home against Leeds in the competition since, winning the last five.


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