5 Things Learned: Chelsea 1-0 Leeds United | Premier League
Pressure eased on Graham Potter after a narrow 1-0 win over Leeds United to end a run of three consecutive defeats for Chelsea.
Following on from a dismal away defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea’s next challenge was the visit of 17th-placed Leeds United. Graham Potter made a formation change to a 3-4-3 from the trip to north London, enforced slightly by the injury to Mason Mount and caution around Reece James hamstring worries. Matteo Kovacic stepped up to take the captain’s armband in Thiago Silva’s absence.
The home side started the brighter of the two teams with a strong amount of possession and high intensity, however failed to make their dominance count in west London.
Potter’s side created numerous chances in the first half. Kai Havertz, was set through on goal in a counterattack, however, failed to convert from one on one position after an excellent stop from Illan Meslier.
The brightest moment in the first half of the game fell to Joao Felix. After some sharp build-up play, Raheem Sterling cut the ball back to the edge of the box, only for the Portuguese star to see his effort crash against the bar as the home team were frustrated in front of goal again.
Leeds grew into the game and looked to hit Chelsea on the counter but struggled to create any meaningful opportunities in the final third. The away side’s best sight of goal came from a free-kick which Jack Harrison fired comfortably over the bar.
At the half-time whistle, boos were heard around Stamford Bridge as the same issue of chances being created but no one finding the back of the net was apparent again.
A big 45 minutes at Stamford Bridge for Chelsea in the second half and the home side started quickly again. Raheem Sterling’s effort flew over the bar within the first minute of the restart.
The breakthrough finally came in the 53rd minute, providing an eruption around Stamford Bridge. A Ben Chilwell corner arrived perfectly for Wesley Fofana. The Frenchman, with a towering header, put the home side 1-0 up. It was Chelsea’s first goal since February 11.
Graham Potter’s first substitutions came just past the hour mark with Conor Gallagher and Denis Zakaria replacing Felix and Sterling.Mateo Kovacic was the third sub, replaced to ease the midfielder back into game time. The change seeing Carney Chukwuemeka given a rare appearance.
Leeds looked the stronger side after the goal. Picking up more possession and finding dangerous positions. Chelsea’s backline stood firm, after some nervy moments, to secure their first win in seven games. Relief was clear to see on Graham Potter’s face after his side gained an important three points.
Here are five things Absolute Chelsea learned from Saturday’s win in the capital.
1) Chelsea’s first win since January
Chelsea came out at Stamford Bridge with a different mindset from the previous game against Tottenham. A high press and sharp play moving forward, looking to control the play in the middle of the midfield. The first half was a repeat of what fans had seen in recent games but a fantastic headed goal from Fofana gave Chelsea a much-needed three points.
2) Finding fluidity in attack
Chelsea’s main issue has been putting the ball in the back of the net. Chances have been created but a mixture of bad luck and a lack of finishing instinct has meant the blues have just four goals in 11 games since the turn of the new year.
However, for the visit of Leeds, fans saw attacking players click and move the ball with speed to add more creativity and find the back of the net. Chelsea would have liked a second goal to secure the game, but the final result backed up what was a better display from the home side.
3) Wesley Fofana shows leadership quality
With news that Thiago Silva is due to be unavailable for around six weeks. Chelsea will need their other centre-backs to step up and perform. Wesley Fofana, back into the starting XI after a long lay-off with injury, led the Chelsea back-line with quality.
The 22-year-old was given Man of the Match after a big contribution to the clean sheet and for scoring the much needed winning goal for the Blues in the 53rd with a fine header past Illan Meslier.
4) Relief as pressure eases on Potter
During a poor run of form and talks from many about Graham Potter’s position, the pressure has mounted drastically on the Chelsea manager. Another loss at Stamford Bridge and Potter could have been out the door.
The home team produced a fighting performance at Stamford Bridge, in a must-win game, and three points has given the Chelsea management another lifeline to prove they can take this team forward.
5) Attentions fully switch to the Champions League
Chelsea’s main hope of success this season, and to ensure they play European football in the next campaign, is to win the Champions League.
After a tough 1-0 defeat away in Germany, the return fixture at Stamford Bridge could be the making of a season turnaround. The Chelsea boss may be without three of his main players though.
Mount and James were absent from the victory at Stamford Bridge, while Silva will miss the midweek clash. These injury worries means Potter will need one of his top performers from the victory against Leeds to step in.