In search of their second win of the season, Chelsea traveled to Elland Road for their clash with Leeds United in Premier League gameweek three on Sunday afternoon (August 21).
Thomas Tuchel’s men were uncharacteristically miserable against the Whites, succumbing to a harrowing 3-0 defeat away from home. Brendan Aaronson, Rodrigo Moreno, and Jack Harrison found the back of the net to gift Elland Road a memorable afternoon against their old rivals.
Chelsea started the game in fine fashion, taking less than a minute to carve open their first chance of the match. Raheem Sterling found himself in an inviting position inside the box but dragged his shot wide of the target.
Four minutes later, the Pensioners caught Leeds out with a quick counterattack. Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who got on the end of the attack, had an opportunity to apply a first-time finish but ended up taking an extra touch and the chance went begging.
In the 15th minute, Sterling wheeled away in celebration as he found the back of the net with an inspired curling effort. To his disappointment, the goal was ultimately ruled out for offside. Five minutes later, Leeds got themselves their first chance of the encounter, with Rodrigo going for goal from a tight angle. To Elland Road’s dismay, his effort zipped narrowly wide of the target.
Just past the half-hour mark, Leeds scored their first goal of the match, courtesy of a moment of madness from Edouard Mendy and a superb bit of anticipation from Aaronson.
Four minutes later, Rodrigo doubled the hosts’ advantage, meeting Harrison’s inch-perfect free-kick delivery with a thumping header. New Chelsea signing Marc Cucurella got an opportunity to pull a goal back for the visitors in the 40th minute, but the left-wingback could not keep his effort on target.
Cucurella got another very decent opportunity early in the second half, but, once again, his finishing let him down, with his effort flying considerably over the bar. The west Londoners created a couple of decent chances through Conor Gallagher and Reece James in the 57th and 65th minutes, respectively. While Gallagher’s effort (via a Marc Roca deflection) drifted just past the post, James’ attempt was parried away by Illan Meslier.
Having been under the cosh for a bit, Leeds bounced back with a reply in the 69th minute, netting their third goal of the night through Harrison. The goal, a rather simple tap-in from close range, took the game completely away from the visiting side.
In the 84th minute, things turned from bad to worse for Tuchel’s side, as their newly-acquired centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly saw a second yellow in the match. Playing with 10 men for the last 10 minutes, the Blues failed to create anything substantial and seemingly accepted their fate.
Here are five Chelsea stars who underperformed in their 3-0 defeat to Leeds United on Sunday afternoon:
Chelsea central midfielder Jorginho was one of the most experienced players on the field on Sunday. Unfortunately, the Italian failed to put his experience to good use, struggling to produce anything to write home about. He rarely ventured up the field, his passes were rarely adventurous, and he was often brushed aside by the opposition.
Against Jesse Marsch’s side, Jorginho did not make a single key pass, lost five of 11 duels, ceded possession five times, and was dribbled past thrice. He was understandably subbed off for Hakim Ziyech in the 64th minute.
#4 Kai Havertz
Having loaned out Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea have taken a massive gamble on attacking midfielder-turned-forward Kai Havertz. The German has the quality to make opponents pay, but he also has a rather irritating habit of often vanishing from games, something we witnessed against Leeds.
Havertz rarely did anything of note against the Peacocks on Sunday, failing to register a single shot on target over the course of the match. His second-half performance was better in terms of involvement in build-up play, but he did not bring the much-needed goal threat to the table.
Against Leeds, Havertz did not attempt even a single shot, was unsuccessful in both dribble attempts, lost eight ground and three aerial duels, and ceded possession 13 times. He also committed three fouls and was caught offside on a couple of occasions.
#3 Raheem Sterling
Former Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling was impressive in pre-season fixtures for Chelsea, but is yet to show the same degree of confidence in competitive fixtures. The Englishman got the chance to open the scoring in the first minute on Sunday, but ended up dragging his effort wide. That off-target goal attempt aside, Sterling did not lodge a single shot on Sunday.
Sterling was also unsuccessful in three of his four attempted dribbles, losing four of five ground duels, and ceding possession nine times. He was also caught offside twice and was booked for a cynical foul on Roca in the 36th minute, handing Leeds a free-kick in a dangerous area. Harrison took the free-kick and found Rodrigo inside the box, who headed home Leeds’ second goal from close range.
#2 Edouard Mendy
Widely hailed as one of the best goalkeepers in the world, Edouard Mendy endured an uncharacteristically nervy afternoon on Sunday. He failed to take control of his area, misplaced three long balls (a total of eight attempts), lost a ground duel, and made an error that led to Leeds United’s first-half opener.
For some reason, Mendy held on to the ball for far too long against Aaronson. He then tried to take him on, but the midfielder was quick to nick the ball from his toes and slotted it home from close range. Mendy could not do much to save the other two goals, but his first-half error took a massive toll on the Londoners’ confidence.
#1 Kalidou Koulibaly
Former Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly was one of the Blues’ standout performers in their 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur last Sunday (August 14), scoring the first goal of the match. Against Leeds, he looked like a shadow of his brilliant self, committing silly fouls and second-guessing every movement.
Just nine minutes into the match, the Senegalese blatantly pulled Aaronson’s shirt after being beaten by the midfielder. The referee rightly showed him a yellow card.
In the 69th minute, he found himself out of sync with the rest of the Chelsea backline as he played Daniel James onside. The Welshman found Rodrigo inside the box, who miscontrolled it, allowing Harrison to intercept and poke the ball home.
15 minutes later, Koulibaly deliberately pulled down Joe Gelhardt after the youngster beat him, prompting the referee to draw a second yellow.
Koulibaly also lost three ground duels, misplaced eight long balls and 16 passes, and ceded possession 16 times against Leeds United.