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Chelsea vs Leeds betting preview: The visitors can pull off a shock as Frank Lampard and Marcelo Bielsa meet again

December 1, 2020

FOR the second consecutive weekend Frank Lampard faces distraction from his opposite number on the touchline. For a second consecutive fixture the Chelsea boss must pit his tactical wits against a man who has essentially schooled him.

Last Sunday, that diversion took the form of Jose Mourinho, a figure so influential on the Padawan coach that he can be compared equally to Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader and you get the feeling Lampard enjoys these meetings, framed as the cheeky upstart sticking it to the old man. He is the apprentice taking on the master, casting that is very much in the 42-year-old’s wheelhouse.

This time however, the former midfielder must play against type even if the dynamic between the managers is much the same. Here the good-looking, well-spoken, and eager-to-please media luvvie must cede popularity to a seemingly dour pensioner, dressed in the club shop, who spends every game sitting on a bucket.

Nearly two years on, it is still fun to revisit ‘Spygate’. Prior to a crucial contest between Marcelo Bielsa’s promotion-chasing side and Lampard’s high-flying Derby, a Leeds employee was discovered taking notes on a Rams training session, reportedly at the behest of Bielsa. Was it cheating? It was certainly unethical.

Lampard therefore assumed he was on solid ground kicking up a fuss about this. After all, here was an Englishman holding virtue dear over an Argentine so surely the press would lap it up, portraying the veteran coach as a villain while lavishing ladles of sympathy on ‘Lamps’. And initially this was exactly how the narrative played out.

"On a sportsman's level, it's bad,” the aggrieved son of St George stated at the time. "It's disrupted our build-up to the game.”

Only then Bielsa took centre stage, charming and disarming one and all with his searing honesty. “Yeah, I did it. It’s entirely on me. I’ve done it lots of times before too and will do so again though I now realise you lot have too much starch in your y-fronts so that’s unfortunate”. That’s what he said in essence before treating journalists to a lengthy and enlightening PowerPoint presentation detailing exactly how much preparation goes into each match.

We value fair play in this country but we treasure eccentricity more and quickly our perspective changed. It was a perspective that made Lampard appear small while according to Gabriele Marcotti, writing for ESPN, Bielsa easily ‘won the battle for hearts and minds’. Leeds incidentally also won out 2-0.

Last week Frank Lampard came up against a manager who had previously made him feel invincible in his own skin. This week he faces one who has gotten under it.

To what extent this will directly impact Chelsea’s hosting of Leeds this Saturday evening remains to be seen but it is unquestionably a fascinating sidebar. On the pitch meanwhile the match-up that particularly intrigues features a Chelsea back-line that has become miserly of late after months of being maligned, colliding with a Leeds attack who carve out an abundance of chances but fail to convert them.

In their last four Premier League games Patrick Bamford and co have taken on 68 shots and scored only three times while across the whole campaign no other team have created more opportunities from open play yet nine of Leeds’ rivals have more goals to their name. As for the Blues they have significantly improved defensively since dumping the gaffe-prone Kepa and limited Andreas Christensen. Across all competitions they have conceded just twice since shipping in three against Southampton. That’s 810 minutes all told. Leeds are 7/4 to score under 0.5.

Switching our attention to the other end of the field we find a Leeds defence that boasts the joint highest number of clean sheets yet who have the third worst rear-guard in terms of goals conceded. If that makes them hard to read the same is true when determining how Chelsea are accruing their goals this term, with less than half coming courtesy of their myriad of front three options. Indeed, six of the Blues’ 22 goals have been scored by defenders to date, a number that puts Leeds’ single defensive strike to shame. Kurt Zouma is 6/1 to add to his impressive tally by scoring anytime

It is always good to share the goals around of course but looking at the bigger picture perhaps it is now time for Timo Werner to step up, following a period of acclimatisation? If Chelsea have serious aspirations to win the league it’s worth noting that the last ten champions have had leading scorers who have averaged 21.4 goals per season. At Werner’s current rate he will be lucky to scrape together 14.

But back to the game where the home side are understandably favourites due to their league standing – Chelsea are 11/20 to prevail – yet it’s with Leeds where the value can be found. The away form of Bielsa’s men should not be overlooked, as evidenced just last week at Goodison, and with that in mind 5/1 is tempting odds for ‘El Loco’ to once again get the better of ‘Honest Frank’.

Furthermore, should you back the Yorkshire side double up on them triumphing in the second period. Leeds have scored 73% of their goals this season in the second 45.

Latest odds: Chelsea (11/20) Draw (17/5) Leeds (5/1). For all Chelsea vs Leeds markets. click here.
Tips: Leeds to win at least one half (19/10), Leeds to win the second half (4/1), Leeds to win (5/1)