It may not have been the goal-fest many were anticipating, but Leeds continued their tradition of playing out exciting goalless draws in the Premier League by holding out for a point against visitors Chelsea.
Raphinha and Rodrigo had the best chances for the Whites, while Illan Meslier and his defenders were kept busy throughout the affair as Chelsea littered the hosts’ area with crosses.
Kalvin Phillips was the key component, putting in an excellent performance in the middle of the park as Gareth Southgate watched from the stands.
Here is how we rated the Leeds players’ displays.
Meslier - 8
The 21-year-old was expected to save the majority of the shots he was faced with, but eight stops in total highlights just how busy he was. Furthermore, the way the French youngster dealt with crosses was vitally significant given Chelsea posed their greatest threat out wide.
Alioski - 5
A lot was being asked of Ezgjan Alioski when he faced off against the likes of Christian Pulisic and Timo Werner. Despite putting in one or two decent challenges across the 90 minutes, he generally struggled down the left side and required support from Phillips.
He also got on the bad side of Kevin Friend and came relatively close to seeing red. When Mateusz Klich was preparing to come on, one would be forgiven for assuming he would replace the North Macedonian to avoid the prospect of going down a man.
Struijk - 8
While not quite as astute in distribution as he tends to be, Pascal Struijk made up for it with a sturdy defensive display. It was surprising to see him involved - let alone start the match - given he was ruled out of contention during Marcelo Bielsa’s pre-match press conference.
Two tackles, three clearances and three blocked shots were registered by the centre-back, who looked to enjoy a highly anticipated partnership with Diego Llorente. He did his best to limit the number of shots faced by Meslier, making an important challenge to deflect an N’Golo Kante effort over the bar in the first half.
Llorente - 8
The Spanish international put in one of his best performances yet, and looks to have gotten into the swing of things after returning from injury. On the ball, he looked far more comfortable than he did in the opposite fixture in December, completing 82 percent of his passes including half of his attempted long balls.
He held strong during periods of Chelsea dominance and provided last ditch blocks when it was required. Two tackles, three interceptions and three duels won represented a sturdy defensive display.
Ayling - 7
Chelsea were arguably unlucky not to score from one of their crosses, but one of the main reasons they failed to do so was Luke Ayling. The right-back was particularly prominent in the first half, and Leeds benefited from his positioning and anticipation as the Blues looked to strike first blood.
His three interceptions highlight his impact at the back, along with his two tackles and four victorious ground duels. Unsurprisingly, only Kante managed more touches than the 29-year-old.
Phillips - 9 (MOTM)
Few would have expected Leeds to keep a clean sheet against Thomas Tuchel’s unbeaten Chelsea outfit, but luckily for them Phillips was at his best, seemingly eager to impress the spectating England manager Gareth Southgate.
No one on the pitch managed more than his four tackles, while he won six of his seven attempted duels. Overall, he provided great defensive coverage and successfully muffled the Blues’ star-studded front line.
Harrison (Off 64’) - 7
Bielsa’s decision to bring Jack Harrison back into the fold for this match was justified by his excellent running off the ball. The pressure he put on his opponents was important at both ends of the pitch.
His crossing also provided some of the few opportunities Leeds enjoyed in the first half, forcing Antonio Rudiger into some vital defensive clearances to deny Patrick Bamford a header on goal. It was surprising to see him depart so soon for Helder Costa.
Dallas - 8
Involved in no less than 11 duels, Stuart Dallas consistently contributed after being given a full 90 minutes in central midfield. His box-to-box presence was an important component of Leeds’ ability to secure a goalless draw.
The 29-year-old’s distribution was particularly impressive, as he completed four of his five attempted long balls and registered a passing accuracy of 81 percent. But it was his hard-working demeanour that won the hearts of Leeds fans once more; in the first half alone he managed seven ball recoveries.
Roberts - 8
With many supporters hoping to see Rodrigo to replace the Welsh international against Chelsea, it was another huge opportunity to Tyler Roberts to prove his critics wrong. And sure enough, the 22-year-old put in a solid shift at both ends of the pitch.
He played one or two good balls forward and got on the end of a couple more thanks to some clever movement. His goal was ruled out and he was unlucky not to score soon afterwards, seeing a deft chipped effort tipped onto the bar by Edouard Mendy.
Defensively, his pressing was important in denying Chelsea attackers time and comfort on the ball. He won five of his 12 goals, and his enthusiasm led to a booking when he accidentally stamped on the back of Jorginho’s knee during a hefty challenge for the ball.
The standard has certainly been set for his future involvements this season.
Raphinha - 7
Having endured a quieter affair in the loss to West Ham United, Raphinha looked to be back to his flashy self today. He was a nightmare for Ben Chilwell to deal with, and was unlucky to not generate better chances on the couple of occasions he brilliantly weaved into the Blues’ area.
The tricky Brazilian won four of his 11 ground duels, while completing three of six attempted dribbles and registering two key passes. However, he should have had a goal to his name in the second half.
Bamford (Off 34’) - 6
It was not the 100th league appearance Patrick Bamford would have wanted, especially up against his former employers. But before being forced off by injury, the striker was lively in providing options with his off-ball movement and ability to hold up play.
His movement for Roberts’ disallowed goal was particularly good, and he was unlucky to be caught offside after sweeping across Chelsea’s backline to help initiate a deadly counter-attack. Admirably, he tried to shake off his knock, but to no avail.
Sub: Rodrigo (On 34’, Off 79’) - 6.5
He should have scored from an uncontested header in the second half but did well in attempting to replicate Bamford’s work off the ball after replacing the former Chelsea player in the first half.
The Spain forward could have also picked up an assist when his header allowed Raphinha to turn and shoot from close range after half time. Bielsa opted to take him off with 10 minutes to go, presumably because he is yet to regain full fitness having come off the bench against West Ham.
Sub: Costa (On 64’) - 6
In the everlasting battle between Harrison and Helder Costa to nail down a starting spot under Bielsa, Harrison got the upper hand in this affair. Lately he has been strong coming off the bench but he couldn’t replicate Harrison’s work off the ball.
He linked up play well on a couple of occasions but did not have as much to offer defensively as the man he replaced, although he did get stuck in with a total of 6 contended ground duels. Also completing two of three attempted dribbles, he did contribute by carrying the ball forward for Leeds.
Sub: Klich (On 79’) - N/A
After dropping down to the bench in favour of a Dallas/Roberts midfield partnership, Mateusz Klich was made to wait before replacing Rodrigo in an unexpected swap with 10 minutes to go. Making just six touches, the 30-year-old was not given enough time to influence the game.
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