Leeds United will look to pick up three points that will put their quest for survival back on track when they host Chelsea on Wednesday night.
The hosts’ quest to play in the Premier League next season took another big hit last time out as they were beaten by Arsenal. In a frustrating game at the Emirates Stadium, Jesse Marsch’s side went two goals down inside the first ten minutes, thanks to a brace from Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah.
The Yorkshire side’s misery was compounded in the 27th minute when Luke Ayling was sent off for a two-footed lunge on an Arsenal player. But despite playing with ten men for over an hour, the ‘Lily Whites’ did not roll over.
Rather, they reduced the deficit to one goal when Diego Llorente headed in from their first corner of the game. They even tried to snatch a late equaliser late in the game but could not get the goal they needed despite their best efforts.
The result and Everton’s 2-1 win over Leicester City on the same day means that Leeds United come into this tie sitting in 17th place. They are level on points with 17th-placed Burnley but have a worse goal difference.
And so, they still have a chance of survival. However, that will depend very much on how many points they can gather between now and the end of the season. They have three games to secure PL football next season, meaning that this game against Chelsea is a must-win.
But the last thing boss Jesse Marsch would have wanted now was a must-win contest against the Blues, who Leeds haven’t beaten in seven games (D2, L5), although with the FA Cup final coming up on Saturday, the London outfit could field a slightly weakened side.
Possible Leeds United starting line-up
Illan Meslier; Diego Llorente, Pascal Struijk, Pascal Struijk; Junior Firpo, Mateusz Klich, Kalvin Phillips; Raphinha, Rodrigo, Jack Harrison; Daniel James.
Injured: Stuart Dallas, Adam Forshaw, Tyler Roberts, Crysencio Summerville.
Doubtful: Liam Cooper, Patrick Bamford
Suspended: Luke Ayling
Chelsea’s struggles towards the end to the season continued last time out as they were held to a 2-2 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers.
In a frustrating game at Stamford Bridge, Thomas Tuchel’s side were pegged back by a late equalising goal by Conor Coady after going two goals ahead thanks to a double by Romelu Lukaku. The result extended their winless run in the league to three games following a 1-1 draw with Manchester United and a 4-2 loss to Arsenal in the games prior.
The draw also leaves them sitting just one point ahead of fourth-placed Arsenal and just five ahead of fifth-placed Tottenham with three games to play.
And so they are now in real danger of missing out on a place in the UCL next season and will therefore be desperate to get back to winning ways to avoid a catastrophic ending to the season.
But given that they are set to play Liverpool in the FA Cup final this weekend, Tuchel might be forced to field a weaker side against Leeds to avoid losing other members of his already thin squad.
Possible Chelsea starting line-up
Edouard Mendy; César Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger; Reece James, Marcos Alonso, Mateo Kovacic, Ruben Loftus-Cheek; Mason Mount, Hakim Ziyech; Kai Havertz.
Injured: Ben Chilwell, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Jorginho, N’golo Kante
Leeds United 1-2 Chelsea