Saturday 17 March 2018

Blues facing Elland Road cauldron – Lampard

Henry Winter

Frank Lampard has been warning those members of Chelsea's foreign legion who have not been to Elland Road about the reception awaiting them tomorrow and the club's long-standing rivalry with Leeds United.

Chelsea returned downhearted from the Club World Cup in Japan, knowing they must pick themselves up quickly for their League Cup quarter-final – a game of increasing importance following elimination from another competition.

The rivalry between Chelsea and Leeds intensified in the 1970s, particularly after the ferocious 1970 FA Cup final replay that was scarred by a litany of offences, most memorably Ron 'Chopper' Harris clattering Eddie Gray.

The fixture has long been depicted as a slightly cliched collision of cultures – Yorkshire meets the King's Road – but the enduring antipathy between supporters remains real enough.

The "champions of Europe'' chants should be noisy: Chelsea are the holders while Leeds fans still sing that they were unfairly denied the chance to be champions in 1975.


"We know the history of Chelsea and Leeds,'' said Juan Mata. "They are always difficult games. Lampard has told me about the rivalry."

Lampard is a student of the game, partly because his father, Frank Snr, played in that era. Lampard himself played against Leeds during their most recent prominent period, around the turn of the millennium.

"Elland Road is a tough place to play,'' he said.

"There's a rivalry. We're aware of it and we have to play on the pitch with passion and do the physical side of things up there because they're going to be right at it.

"We can't expect to go up there and tap it around and expect to get a result. We have to do both sides."

There is lingering tension between the respective boards with Ken Bates, the Leeds chairman, having sold Chelsea to Roman Abramovich and made some disparaging remarks about the Russian. Bates' unique programme notes will be scrutinised with even more interest than usual.

Neil Warnock will have Leeds pumped up for a home date with distinguished visitors just as he did earlier in the season when they overcame Everton. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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