Five things we learned from Chelsea 3-2 Leeds

Chelsea came from behind to beat Leeds United 3-2 at Stamford Bridge to progress to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side fell behind after just eight minutes but were able to complete a turnaround in the first half, before Leeds pegged them back to 2-2 in the second half. But Conor Gallagher’s fine finish meant Chelsea avoided any further despair after Sunday’s Carabao Cup final loss to Liverpool.

Here’s the five things we learned from Chelsea’s comeback win over Leeds.

Despair of cup final still lingers 

Having been labelled as “billion-pound bottle jobs” and coming so close to winning silverware on the weekend, Chelsea and Pochettino must have been determined to put things right against Leeds United in the FA Cup.  

It could not have started worse for Chelsea, who fell behind after just eight minutes following a calamitous error from Axel Disasi, who’s careless pass to Moises Caicedo was pounced upon by Mateo Joseph, who finished emphatically. 

Chelsea did manage to turn the game around in the first half thanks to goals from Nicolas Jackson and Mykhailo Mudryk. Despite the picture looking positive heading into the break, Pochettino must have been fuming with his team’s defending and how they surrendered possession so easily. 

Chelsea were accused of failing to take the initiative against Liverpool on Sunday and on numerous occasions tonight it was a similar case. They eventually got over the line thanks to Conor Gallagher’s late strike, but there will still be plenty for Pochettino to ponder. 

Mudryk in the number 10 position 

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Having struggled to make an impact on the left for Chelsea, Mauricio Pochettino trialed Mykhailo Mudryk in the number 10 position against Leeds, with Raheem Sterling and Noni Madueke providing the width. 

Mudryk benefitted from being closer to the action and was a constant threat between the lines. His best moment arrived when he rounded off a scintillating Chelsea move to put his side 2-1 up.  

Pochettino made a few changes just past the hour mark which saw Mudryk move back out to the left. He faded and struggled to get on the ball as much as he did in the first. Given Mudryk’s influence in the centre, it might be one for Pochettino to ponder in the future. 

Gray and Joseph shine for Leeds

Archie Gray – great-nephew of Eddie Gray, who lost to Chelsea in the 1970 FA Cup final replay- flourished alongside Ethan Ampadu in midfield, showing composure whenever Chelsea triggered the press and progressing the ball efficiently up the field – most notably in the build-up to Leeds’ second goal which was finished off by Mateo Joseph. 

Spaniard Joseph, who arrived from Espanyol in 2022, cost the club just £900,000 but has struggled to live up to the hype since his arrival. However, he has started to show signs of promise this season. Tonight, he was handed his first start of the season by Daniel Farke and he seized the opportunity with two brilliantly taken goals.  

Gray was given player of the match in the end despite being on the losing side. That should sum up just how good he was. 

Both players are certainly ones to keep an eye on and may potentially get wider recognition next season should Leeds win promotion back to the Premier League. 

Gallagher makes amends 

After missing two glorious chances against Liverpool on Sunday, it was fitting that Conor Gallagher rescued Chelsea from the bench with his well-taken finish seconds before the 90-minute mark. 

Following the final whistle at Wembley, Gallagher struck a dejected figure after squandering those chances. The blame for the defeat was in no way directed towards him, but his expression suggested he felt his misses were costly. 

Tonight, he atoned for it, trapping the ball beautifully inside the box before slamming the ball past Illan Meslier to send Chelsea into the quarter-finals. 

Chelsea’s chance for redemption

What better way to move past the embarrassment of Sunday’s defeat to Liverpool than going all the way in this competition. Chelsea rode their luck at times against Leeds but as they showed in the run-up to the Carabao Cup final, the team showed grit and determination.

Pochettino’s side will face another high-flying Championship side on March 16 when Leicester visit Stamford Bridge. It won’t be easy, but it presents Pochettino with another opportunity to deliver silverware in what has otherwise been a dismal season for Chelsea. 

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