Three Reasons to Watch Leeds vs Chelsea

Tomorrow Chelsea meet Leeds in the League Cup quarter finals, and it’s a game that has the potential to entertain on three fronts: the bad blood, the personnel, and the ‘cupset’ potential.

The bad blood comes where all the best bad blood does – the distant past. In the final away game of Liverpool’s 2006-07 season, Benitez picked a weakened side which were beaten by a poor Fulham team, this lead to the relegation of Neil Warnock’s Sheffield United – an act he said he’d “never forgive” Benitez for. A rejection of a pre-match handshake could ignite tempers all round.

The personnel are made up of the usual Chelsea stars but for me, that won’t be the highlight. For me, the one they call the “Sewer Rat”, El Hadji Diouf will be the one to watch. 

Diouf has been a revelation at Warnock’s Leeds. He checks the standard boxes of physical imposition and willingness to run that both team and manager demand, but adds something that a team like Leeds needs – skill.

Compared to the players around him Diouf is very skillful, and not just with the foot tricks. At the Championship level of football he is capable of controlling the pace of games; either breaking it down with the ball at his feet, or providing a killer pass to create goals.

Despite generally being a bad news fool off the ball, Diouf is surprising clever on the ball. When he wants to beat a man he can, when he wants to draw the foul he can, when he wants to antagonize the opposition (or their fans) he knows all the tricks. He will prove invaluable against Chelsea like he was against Everton.

Thirdly the game has a fair potential for a cupset. Despite all their world class stars, the Blues sometimes have difficulty finishing their moves (mainly when they pass to Torres), and the recent passionless loss to Corinthians in the Club World Cup won’t have helped. Leeds will look to frustrate, and grab one when they aren’t looking.