Weary Chelsea return from their jaunt in Japan to face the ‘old enemy’, Leeds United, in the quarter final of the League Cup. For those of you too young to remember, Chelsea and Leeds have a fierce rivalry going back to the sixties. Chelsea were silky smooth in those days whilst Leeds, under the guidance of wily Don Revie, were known as ‘dirty Leeds’ and simply steam-rollered teams. They got their come-uppance in the 1970 FA Cup final replay. The replay, the first since 1912, had a TV audience in the UK of 28 million, the largest to this day. Modern day referee, David Elleray later watched the match and concluded that he would have issued six red cards and twenty yellow cards! Chelsea won the match 2-1.
The two clubs are barely recognisable today, with Chelsea being one of the world’s top clubs whilst dirty Leeds stagnate in the second tier. That does not mean this will be a walk over, the Leeds team and supporters will really be up for it. We must match them physically before we can play our football. Lamps has spoken to his team mates and told them of the history involved.
With Mikel and Ramires suspended this is Benitez’s chance to play David Luiz in midfield, following his revelation in Japan. I, like many Chelsea supporters, have been calling for Luiz to be used in midfield for months now. He reads the game well, plays on the front foot and has the range of passes, step- overs, acceleration and personality to become a legend in this position. Mark my words, if Benitez plays him there we will win comfortably!
Leeds have won the last 3 at home since the 6-1 trouncing at the hands of Zola’s Watford. A word of warning they have already beaten Southampton and Everton in this campaign!
I expect Benitez to play a strong team with only the suspended or injured players absent. However I am sure he will have one eye on the Stamford Bridge tie against Villa on Sunday.
As Ian Hutchinson once put it, ‘Hate. We hated them and they hated us’. Nothing changed there then!