Chelsea And Leeds Renew Rivalry

Image courtesy of chelseafc.com
John Terry is likely to lead Chelsea in to battle against Leeds. Image courtesy of chelseafc.com
A League Cup quarter-final between the team placed third in the Premier League and one sitting 12th in the Championship normally doesn’t stir the emotions, but then again, Leeds United vs Chelsea is no normal League Cup tie.

The hatred between these clubs goes back to the 1960s when, as two of the most upwardly mobile clubs in England, both started challenging Manchester United for supremacy in the old First Division. Both clubs were representative of the country’s geographical divide, with Leeds containing almost exclusive players from the north of the country, while Chelsea was full of Londoners and footballers from the affluent Home Counties.

The bitterness has continued in to the 21st Century, especially after Ken Bates sold Chelsea to Roman Abramovich and eventually made his way to Elland Road, before accusing his former club of attempting to steal a small number of Leeds Academy players. The teams haven’t met for eight-and-a-half years, but there will be no love lost when they clash on Wednesday morning (AEDT).

There is even tension between the managers. United manager Neil Warnock fell out with new Chelsea boss Rafael Benitez in 2007 when the Spaniard fielded a weakened Liverpool side which went down 1-0 to Fulham, allowing the Cottagers to avoid relegation at the expense of Warnock’s Sheffield United side. The wounds are still to heal and Warnock says he’s still yet to decide if he’ll shake Benitez’s hand this week.

Leeds’ form in the Championship has been ordinary for the most part, but four wins in their last five – including victories over promotion hopefuls Crystal Palace and Leicester City at home – have lifted the Whites to within four points of the top six. United beat Everton 2-1 in the third round of the competition before accounting for Southampton 3-0 , so their form against Premier League opposition is good.

Chelsea returns to England after going down 1-0 to Corinthians in the World Club Cup final in Japan last weekend. The Brazilian side sat back and was happy to play at a slow tempo before taking an opportunistic goal. The Blues became the first team since 2006 to win the Champions League but fail to take out the Club World Cup, and the result continued a poor recent run for the London side after it was eliminated from this season’s Champions League. In a rare piece of good news, Frank Lampard returned last weekend from a calf injury which has plagued him for several weeks.

Chelsea thrashed Championship side Wolverhampton 6-0 in round three of the League Cup, but that was when they were running roughshod over teams in the Premier League after taking 22 of a possible 24 points from their first eight matches.

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