Frank Lampard and Marcelo Bielsa face each other for the first time in Premier League after having a controversial chapter in Championship two years back. Lampard, who was then the Derby County manager was critical of Bielsa during the Spygate scandal after the Leeds manager had sent a member of his staff to spy on a Derby’s training session. Chelsea will hope to continue their impressive form against a resurgent Leeds who are on a fine run collecting 7 points from their last 3 games.
Patrick Bamford, who spent six years at Chelsea without a first team appearance is expected to lead the line for Leeds, and Lampard has praised the striker for his fine form in the league. Speaking on the Leeds striker Lampard said “I remember him well. He was a young player when he arrived at the club. Clearly he had great finishing abilities and an eye for goal. Obviously it didn’t quite work out for him – that’s probably more due to the competition he faced during that period up front for us. I think he should be proud of the way his career has gone; to make different moves and come back and be one of the leading scorers in the Premier League, in a very good Leeds team.“
Lampard has played down any bad blood between the managers after the infamous Spygate scandal, which saw Bielsa fined £200,000 by the Football Association. The Chelsea manager added “It’s in the past. I’m certainly not going to dwell on it going into this game. I’d rather dwell on the respect I have for him as a coach. It was a great news story, it had a lot to it. It’s gone. I just look at how well he did – he brought Leeds up the year after. They were probably the strongest in the Championship the year that we played against them at Derby. It was a very proud moment for myself to go against him and win that game, but it’s a game long gone. I’m not concerned about what lesson he’s learned or not. I respect him, I respect Leeds. I’m only concerned with us being right tomorrow to try to win the match.”
On the prospect of facing Leeds Lampard said it will be a big test for Chelsea as they try to continue their unbeaten run against a dangerous side. The Chelsea manager added “If you analyse Leeds – not an easy team to analyse because of the way they play – lots of shots, scoring goals against top teams, pretty much against anyone they create a lot. So we’ll have to be at our absolute best in terms of concentration and togetherness as we defend. We’ve been showing some really good signs – that’s how you get clean sheets. It will be a huge test against Leeds because they’re one of the most dangerous teams in the league.”