Chelsea v Leeds : The key talking points as the Blues do just enough to beat old rivals 1-0
Wesley Fofana's 53rd minute header sealed a 1-0 win. Here's what his first Premier League goal means for the Blues, who badly needed this victory
Above everything, Chelsea fans craved a goal.
“We scored a goal,” chanted Blues fans after Wesley Fofana had headed in Ben Chilwell’s corner early in the second half to end a run of effectively four games without finding their net. It had been one in six before today.
With all the talent at their disposal – and considering the outrageous financial outlay in January – the lack of goals has been nothing short of astounding. Then again, the lack of a recognised number nine may have had something to do with that.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was again on the bench and Kai Havertz entrusted with the central striker role which does not look like his best position. He missed a first-half sitter when played through by Raheem Sterling, though credit must go to Illan Meslier for a fine save. Joao Felix hit the bar too, so there should have been one before the breakthrough.
A win was pretty important too
The Ls have been stacking up in a run of one win in 11. An unprecedented sequence for the two-times champions of Europe. ‘unacceptable’ Graham Potter called it.
The slide to mid-table mediocrity has only happened once in the past couple of decades – the year of Leicester City’s amazing run to the title. Arresting the slide ahead of the Dortmund clash is a timely confidence boost.
The other important aspect of the win was the clean sheet. The Blues may have been in the doldrums of late but they don’t tend to concede many – only 8 in 12 at the Bridge now. That has been largely overlooked amid the gloom.
The suspicion that Potter’s future might depend on the result of the return fixture with Borussia Dortmund recedes a little with this win.
The Champions League is the only trophy left to fight for, and assuming fourth place is going to be out of reach, overcoming the Germans at the Bridge on Tuesday takes on added importance. They have a goal to make up after a first-leg defeat.
For all Todd Boehly’s insistence that a new culture of building for the future is in place – in contrast to the Abramovich years – Potter has accepted he is a man under pressure and a run of one win in 11 heading into today’s clash with Leeds.
But victory over their old Yorkshire foes will surely have helped ease some of that pressure. There is still a lack of cohesion about the hastily assembled new parts of this particular Chelsea squad, yet it does not look as if the players are downing tools because of lack of any lack of faith in the Potter project.
It seems unlikely that Potter will be jettisoned should they fail to get past Dortmund. There would be little point. But had they lost against Leeds, it is not inconceivable that the owner would have cut his losses.
Chelsea love playing Leeds at the Bridge
This was a sixth win in a row in west London against their bitter 70s rivals. They have not lost to the Yorkshire outfit here since December 1999, when Frank Lebeouf was sent off in a 2-0 defeat. In other words, a long time ago. They were flattened 3-0 at Elland Road earlier in the campaign but seem to relish the sight of their old adversaries in London. This was sweet revenge and very much needed.