Jesse Marsch faces one of his biggest tests of this English Premier League campaign on Sunday when Leeds United welcomes Christian Pulisic and Chelsea to Elland Road to see which team can remain unbeaten.
Both teams are coming off the backs of exciting, yet frustrating, 2-2 draws from last weekend. Marsch will hope to have made significant adjustments coming into the weekend’s game as they surrendered a 2-0 lead over Southampton to leave St. Mary’s with just a point.
On the other side, Thomas Tuchel’s Blues should have been well on their way to a 2-1 win over London rivals Tottenham. However, they could not defend the last corner kick of the game, allowing their opponents to come away with a point. The action was not only contained to the field as the German coach and his counterpart Antonio Conte squared up to each other on the sideline. This led to both receiving red cards at the end of the game.
Normally, this would have prevented Tuchel from being on the sideline for the Blues, but it appears the suspension will not be enforced this weekend due to a technicality. Despite Marsch’s insistence that his counterpart not be on the bench for Sunday’s game, it is what it is.
Personnel-wise, Leeds should still have pretty much the same players taking the field with the one notable omission being their striker Patrick Bamford who left their game early last weekend with a groin injury. However, for American viewers, the attention will all be on Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson as they face their first test against a Premier League contender.
Both have started very well in their debut seasons in the English top flight. Adams has gone the distance in Leeds’ first two games, showing the confidence he admittedly said he had lost in the latter part of his time at RB Leipzig. Aaronson has also featured in the starting eleven, playing a total of 174 minutes, and showing his intensity and creativity to help the team in the attack.
A lot more will be expected of the former Red Bull Salzburg man in this game as the loss of Bamford will see Leeds looking for others to supply the goals. Rodrigo has so far been the only player on the team to score as he has three on the season (although some would claim Aaronson does already have a goal to his credit).
At the other end, Chelsea should be content with their start to the league season despite last weekend’s draw. One of the big issues still lingering for the team is who can score the goals in the attack. Thus far, their three goals have come from defenders and a midfielder. Getting those attacking players to click will make the difference if they want a result.
The Blues will be without regulars N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, and Armando Broja on Sunday. Another big question will be the availability of Christian Pulisic. Tuchel told reporters at a press conference on Friday that the 23-year-old had problems with his Achilles’, but he was able to train.
Pulisic has come off the bench for Chelsea in their first two games racking up 30 total minutes. It’s still up in the air whether this could be his last game for the team as rumors of a loan to Manchester United, Newcastle and a few other clubs have been going around.
Despite Chelsea coming in shorthanded for the game, it should promise to be an intense affair as both teams love to go on the attack.