Chelsea 3 (Giraud 27, Zouma 61, Pulisic 90+3)
Leeds United 1 (Bamford 4)
This was another reality check for Leeds, it proved again, not for the first time this season, that Chelsea are not the level of side we are in competition with this season. The next two games, against West Ham and Newcastle, are more in our bracket and are the games we need to be winning.
Leeds got off to the best possible start with a 4th minute goal brilliantly taken by Patrick Bamford and, despite conceding to our Achilles Heel of yet another corner kick against a team that had scored more from corners this season than anyone else, we gave as good as we got for 45 minutes. That was despite losing Robin Koch very early presumably with a recurrence of the injury that threatened to keep him out in the first place.
The decision to play Koch looked a risk too far from a management team not known for taking risks. It meant that Diego Llorente had to be played, much as Bielsa cautioned he didn’t want to this early in his recovery, and seeing him limping at the end of the game is another worry going forward. Llorente’s performance probably showed just why Bielsa wanted him to have a few Under 23 games before being thrown into the hurly burly of the Premier league; he did well enough but is clearly in need of games, although the constant ribbing he got from the 2,000 home fans will already have toughened him up a bit I’m sure!
The second half was a lesson for us from a top, top side. Chelsea are a side built with hundreds of millions of pounds and every player is technically superb, good on the ball, fit, and clever. As you would expect, almost man for man their players are more skilful than ours; in the Premier League you pretty much get what you pay for and we are at a very early stage in populating our side with players of the top calibre. Leeds, for their part, showed failings at an individual level. Jack Harrison had a difficult day and again showed us that crossing a football is not his best strength; at the back we were making too many soft individual errors and in midfield I felt, yet again, we were missing the control that comes from having a Pablo Hernandez in there, probing and prompting. It is a mystery to me why Bielsa is so reluctant to play Rodrigo, the next best thing to a Pablo we possess. I felt we looked much more in control once Rodrigo arrived late in the game.
Never the less, it was an old Leeds failing – not being able to defend a corner kick for love nor money – that really did for us. That and maybe a bit of experience at this level; had Poveda gone down when his foot was kicked in the area a penalty would surely have resulted. Chelsea won eight corners and I don’t remember us defending a single one with any certainty.
Yes, Chelsea had numerous other chances but Illan Meslier was again at his brilliant best and, apart from one loose pass out of his box that echoed one we saw last week, he was quite simply brilliant; surely the best keeper at his age the Premier League has ever seen. Had we not allowed Zouma to get free for the second goal then I think our fitness and organisation would have seen us to the draw all Leeds fans would have been satisfied with.
So, it’s another day in the Premier League classroom for us and as long as we learn then all should be well but, as already mentioned, when West Ham and Newcastle come to town we need to show we are more than a match for the likes of them.
Chelsea Leeds United
Possession 46% 54%
Shots 23 8
On Target 10 3
Corners 8 4
Fouls Committed 12 9