Supporters would be forgiven for believing there to be some hostility between Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa and Chelsea gaffer Frank Lampard – and while Bielsa is hardly going to admit the two bosses are enemies, he showed humility to describe the relationship the duo have ahead of Saturday’s clash at Stamford Bridge.
Leeds take on Chelsea this weekend, having earned four points in their last two games – beating Everton and keeping clean sheets in both, with a 0-0 draw against Arsenal coming before the win over the Toffees. Leeds have climbed to a very impressive 12th place in the Premier League with 14 points from their opening 10 games.
So far, Leeds have been somewhat of an enigma in the Premier League. Arsenal, Everton, Aston Villa, Manchester City and others have struggled against the Whites – failing to know how to play against Bielsa’s Leeds and their superior fitness. But they come up against a different test on Saturday, with Lampard more than aware of what Leeds can do.
In Lampard’s one season at Derby, the now-Chelsea boss faced Leeds four times during 2018-19 – the year in which Lampard was fuming with the drama entitled ‘Spygate’. Leeds beat Derby home and away in the Championship, leaving Lampard angry after claiming Bielsa had been unsportsmanlike. Derby then beat Leeds in the play-offs – but Bielsa showed humility ahead of the two managers’ fifth meeting on Saturday.
“It’s not bad,” Bielsa told his Thursday press conference – as per Leeds Live – when asked about his relationship with Lampard. “The relationship with him is similar to those I have with all my other colleagues.”
Such a response is a sign of the kind of man Bielsa is. He could easily have decided against answering the question, or avoided the question with a political answer. Instead, he rose above Lampard’s criticism of his tactics to state that he has a good relationship with the Blues legend. It will be interesting to see the handshake at the start and end, of Saturday’s encounter.
Bielsa also gave an injury update ahead of the match. Diego Llorente is fit, but is expected to play in the Under-23 side before making his debut for the club. Pablo Hernandez and Jamie Shackleton are in a similar boat – while Adam Forshaw has now spent more than a year on the sidelines, and is still yet to return to training. Gaetano Berardi faces a race against time to play this season.