Football Features

“Absolutely on fire” – Player ratings as awesome Americans shine bright to let Leeds crush Chelsea

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 16:23, 21 August 2022

In a brutal afternoon of football, Leeds crushed Chelsea 3-0 at Elland Road for their first win over the Blues in 21 years.

The result takes Leeds all the way up to second in the Premier League table. The last time they were this high was September 2002! It’s been that long for the Yorkshire club but they have finally taken a colossal scalp in true style on their return to the big time.

Chelsea meanwhile have dropped to 12th in the table with a win, draw and now a defeat dragging them and their expensive new signings down the table. They looked like a side who need a striker.

Here’s how the players rated at Elland Road:


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Leeds

Ilan Meslier – 8 – Was rock solid, collecting the ball when he had to and, when Chelsea “got it right” and hit the target he showed up with some big saves most notably from Mason Mount in the first-half.

Rasmus Kristensen – 8 – Defended well but wasn’t really tested too much by Chelsea’s left-flank.

Robin Koch – 8 – Rock hard at the back. Stood erect against any Chelsea attack. Carried the defensive load for Leeds.

Diego Llorente – 8 – An impeccable performance.

Pascal Struijk – 8 – Got stuck in with utter enthusiasm and hammered any and every Chelsea foray down the right.

Marc Roca – 8 – An energetic presence at the heart of the Leeds midfield. No one made more tackles than him (3) while he was on the field. The Catalan even found time to pull of Xavi’s iconic spin “La Pelopina” to escape Chelsea pressure.

Tyler Adams – 8 – The Baltimore Busquets. The Philadelphia Pirlo. The Xenia Xabi Alonso. The Glendale Guardiola. The San Francisco Scholes. The Cleveland Carrick. The Bakersfield Bruno Soriano. The Kalamazoo Koke. The Raleigh Rodrigo. The Kansas Kimmich.

Daniel James – 8 – Remember when he was a joke? Turns out the problem was probably Manchester United. A superb display of pressing and runs off the ball to create space for others.

Jack Harrison – 9 – Born in Stoke, trained in the USA, Jack Harrison has an interesting history and brought that all to bear against Chelsea. Pulverized the Blues with his runs and passes, completing a game-high 4/4 take-ons and setting up the Leeds second with a great cross then scoring the third with an instinctive finish. Voted man of the match.

Brenden Aaronson – 9 – A superhuman display of pressing and running. Leeds were out-running Chelsea by 11.5km at one point at 80% of that was probably Aaronson. Robbed Edouard Mendy to cheekily score the opener and just did not stop for the entire game. Of the extra distance covered, Aaronson said: “it just shows you who wants it more,” also saying that the result was amazing; “we dreamed about it for a long time.”

“Welcome to the Premier League,” Harrison said to Aaronson after the match. And what a welcome! In Aaronson and Adams, America might have finally found two genuinely top-class footballing talents in the men’s game.

Rodrigo – 8 – Scored his fourth goal of the season with a lovely header. “He’s absolutely on fire,” said Micah Richards post-match, and that claim is backed up by the fact that his horrendous miscontrol of Dan James’ cross ended up being an assist for Jack Harrison.

Leeds Substitutes:

Adam Forshaw (for Roca 61′) – 7 – Kept things ticking over.

Luis Sinisterra (for James 70′) – 6 – Didn’t get too involved.

Sam Greenwood (for Harrison 83′) – n/a – Came on late.

Mateusz Klich (for Aaronson 83′) – n/a – Came on late.

Joe Gelhardt (for Rodrigo 83′) – n/a – Came on late.


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Chelsea

Edouard Mendy – 3 – Looked jittery all game long and made a colossal, catastrophic error to hand Leeds their opening goal and all the momentum on the day. Had no chance on the second Leeds goal, but his lack of presence was a factor in Leeds’ third.

Reece James – 4 – As ambitious in possession as ever but was as poor defensively as all his team-mates. Out-jumped for Leeds’ second.

Thiago Silva – 5 – Read the play as well as he always does, but whenever Leeds ran at him he suddenly looked every second of his 37 years.

Kalidou Koulibaly – 4 – Chelsea’s best defender for 84 minutes. Got stuck into duels and swept the Leeds passing lanes. However in the 85th minute he completely lost his head and picked up a needless second yellow and thus red card.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek – 4 – Worked hard and got stuck in but to basically zero impact. Didn’t work out wide or narrow.

Jorginho – 4 – Looked all at sea against the relentless Leeds press.

Connor Gallagher – 4 – Does not appear to be a good stylistic fit with Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea. There were a few bright passes and runs but he belongs in a different kind of team.

Marc Cucurella – 5 – His limited technical skill-set is more apparent in this slower, less dynamic side. Wasn’t bad by any means, but wasn’t good either.

Mason Mount – 5 – Looked Chelsea’s best bet of creating a goal but just couldn’t get it figured out.

Raheem Sterling – 5 – Watching him try to attack space in a team that isn’t close to as efficient at manipulating said space is a frustrating experience. Scored but was offside. Has lots of good ideas but is crying out for a proper striker to play with. Aubameyang when?

Kai Havertz – 4 – Does not appear to be improving at the rate Chelsea need him to. Blocked Ziyech from getting a consolation goal.

Chelsea Substitutes:

Christian Pulisic (for Gallagher 64′) – 4 – Added nothing when Chelsea needed something.

Hakim Ziyech (for Jorginho 64′) – 5 – Would have scored but for Havertz blocking his rasping drive.

Ben Chilwell (for Mount 77′) – 5 – Changed the Chelsea shape.

Cesar Azpilicueta (for Sterling 87′) – n/a – Came on late.

Player Name (for XXX 60′) – x – 0

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