In the second of three consecutive weeks where Frank Lampard faces a manager with whom he has a notable history, Chelsea overcame Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds at the weekend.
The 3-1 victory was impressive in that, despite going a goal down early to ex-Chelsea striker Patrick Bamford, Lampard’s side out-ran the famously energetic Leeds team to come back and win, through goals from Olivier Giroud, Kurt Zouma and Christian Pulisic.
While most would probably agree that Chelsea have a better squad than Leeds, the fact that Lampard has his team motivated and drilled well enough to outwork a Bielsa side with a goal advantage suggests impressive managerial skills for the third-year coach, even if he does not yet have quite the tactical reputation of the maverick former-Argentina manager.Embed from Getty Images
A significant victory in their first Premier League meeting for Lampard, but this was not always the case when the two faced-off in the Championship.
Derby 1-4 Leeds – Championship
August 11, 2018
In only Lampard’s second league game as a manager his Derby team was soundly beaten by a Leeds side that had bought into their new coach’s message the quickest. Derby were swept aside by the high-tempo Bielsa style as the Argentine’s tactics took the league by storm.
An early goal from outside the area from Mateusz Klich hinted at what was to come, but Derby found an equaliser inside the first quarter of an hour when Tom Lawrence fired a fiercely swerving free-kick home, that flew straight over the top of away keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell.
Less than 10 minutes later, Kemar Roofe scored the first of two excellently taken goals to give Leeds a lead they would never relinquish, expertly directing a header back across Scott Carson from a floated Ezgjan Alioski cross.
Roofe added his second on the hour when he received the ball on the edge of the Derby area before turning away from three defenders to smash the ball high past Carson with his left foot.
A header from Alioski a few minutes later, that Carson should have done better with, sealed the win for Bielsa’s Leeds as Lampard was taught an early lesson in his young managerial career.Embed from Getty Images
Leeds 2-0 Derby – Championship
January 11, 2019
The build-up to this game birthed the Bielsa-Lampard rivalry as the Leeds manager took responsibility for sending a member of staff to spy on Derby at their training ground. The incident, that led to the police being called, became known as ‘Spygate’ with Lampard evidently upset at what he felt was dishonest behaviour.
The game itself showcased Leeds in great form as they overwhelmed Derby in front of a gleeful Elland Road crowd to go five points clear at the top.
Derby were lucky to escape conceding a penalty in the first minute as Leeds’ high-press worked to perfection to win possession high up the field, and Andre Wisdom brought down Alioski in the box. The referee pointed to the spot only for the flag to go up for offside in what proved to be a clear error from the assistant.
Leeds were not to be denied though as Roofe again made Derby pay when he got ahead of Fikayo Tomori to flick the opener in at the near post, after a corner was well-recycled by Jack Clarke in the 20th minute.Embed from Getty Images
Clarke again was involved just after half time when Leeds doubled their lead, sending a hanging ball into the box from the right that Carson failed to get a strong enough hand to. The ball fell to Alioski just beyond the far-post who was able to divert it back across goal for Jack Harrison to take advantage of a static Derby defence and tap home.
Bielsa, having done the double over Lampard, had clearly got the better of him, both on and off the pitch, and went on to win over a stunned football media by conducting a 66-minute PowerPoint presentation for journalists the next week in response to the ‘Spygate’ accusations.
The level of detail that the former-Athletic Bilbao manager goes into on his opponents, regardless of any spying, impressed the watching media to the extent that it largely undercut Lampard’s complaints in the build-up to the previous game.
Derby 0-1 Leeds – Championship Play-off Semi-Final 1st Leg
May 11, 2019
Derby snuck into the playoffs in sixth and Leeds, top for so long, ended up falling back into third, thanks in part to the draw with Aston Villa that saw Bielsa again surprise the watching-world by ordering his team to concede an equaliser.
But it was more of the same in the first leg of the play-off semi-final as a controversial game saw Leeds come out on top for the third time in a row. Lampard must have been feeling like it could not get any worse as he was beaten at home by Bielsa again and saw two huge decisions go against his side.
Although a tighter game than the two previous encounters suggested Lampard might be beginning to develop a game-plan to keep Bielsa’s side at bay, a fantastic curved ball from Harrison on the left found Roofe in the centre to put Leeds ahead yet again.
Derby thought they had found a way back into the tie when they were given a penalty with a quarter of an hour to go. Harrison, in attempting to clear the ball, swiped the feet out from under Jayden Bogle who had been arriving behind him.Embed from Getty Images
However, after referee Craig Pawson had consulted with the assistant on the near side he changed his decision and awarded a free kick to Leeds, adjudging Bogle to have fouled Harrison first.
Things went from bad to worse for Derby when Klich aimed a headbutt at Tomori as he got up from a challenge, prompting a furious reaction from the Derby players. Again, fortune favoured Leeds though as the midfielder escaped with only a yellow card.
With no side having made the final after losing the first leg at home, and insult being added to injury for Lampard as the ‘Stop crying Frank Lampard’ song was belted out by the Leeds fans, it looked like there was to be no joy in the fixture for the former-Chelsea player.
Leeds 2-4 Derby – Championship Play-off Semi-Final 2nd Leg
15 May, 2019
The turning of the tide came in a crazy second leg that saw a victory-procession turn into a nightmare for Leeds, as both sides finished with 10 men and Derby advanced to the play-off final.
It started with more of the same for Leeds when Stuart Dallas put them 2-0 up on aggregate, tapping into an open goal after Kalvin Phillips’ free kick had been glanced against the post by Liam Cooper.
Both sides then hit the woodwork before a disaster at the back for Leeds marked the turning point in the rivalry, from which Lampard has not looked back since.
Things would likely have been very different if the home side had made it to half time with the lead, but a mix-up between captain Cooper and Kiko Casilla immediately before the break let in Jack Marriott, who had only just come on as a substitute, to score with his first touch into an empty net.Embed from Getty Images
The goal, both in its timing and the manner by which it came, changed the entire atmosphere of the night, as Mason Mount put Derby ahead straight after half-time with an improvised, lofted finish.
Cooper compounded his earlier error before the hour, conceding a penalty by pulling Mason Bennett back in the box, as Leeds imploded. Harry Wilson increased the lead from the spot to turn the tie in Derby’s favour.
Leeds pulled one back minutes later when Dallas curled his second inside the far post to bring the tie level on aggregate, but momentum again swung back towards the away side when Gaetano Berardi was sent off with less than 15 minutes to go, picking up a second-yellow for a lunge on Bradley Johnson.
Derby made the man advantage pay when captain Richard Keogh found himself in an advanced position and played in Marriott to score his second with five minutes left.Embed from Getty Images
Although there was time for Scott Malone to also be sent off for a second-yellow, bringing down Pablo Hernandez in injury-time, the final whistle soon followed, sparking wild celebrations from Lampard and the Derby players and staff.
They then celebrated by holding up pretend binoculars, and footage from the changing rooms after the match showed Lampard dancing with his players and singing the ‘Stop crying’ song, to show how much it meant to overcome Leeds and bring an unexpected conclusion to the season-long saga between the two teams.
Derby would go on to lose to Aston Villa in the final before Lampard left to replace Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea. Despite speculation that he might also leave, Bielsa returned for the following season and finally ended Leeds’ wait to return to the Premier League, by winning the Championship at the second attempt.Embed from Getty Images
The recent history between the two shows that Bielsa once firmly had the upper-hand against a rookie opponent, but the latest result, in addition to the most significant one, have both gone the way of Lampard. If this trend continues, and the Chelsea coach has turned things around in a short space of time, then perhaps Lampard has more to him as a manager than many have so far suspected.
The enigmatic Bielsa still leads the head-to-head 3-2 but, after reeling off three-straight victories to begin the rivalry, the picture is starting to look very different. Bearing in mind the added intrigue of the ‘Spy-gate’ episode, one could be forgiven for expecting the less experienced of the two to wilt under the pressure, but as with his record against former boss Jose Mourinho, Lampard has demonstrated an ability to rise to the challenge in such situations.
As long as he can avoid facing Bielsa on the 11th of the month he should be ok, as the Leeds boss won 100% of the meetings on that day. Lampard completes the trilogy of matches against significant managers from his past this weekend when he faces Carlo Ancelotti and Everton.
Click here to read the run-down of Lampard’s managerial meetings with Mourinho.
Click here to read the match report of Lampard’s victory over Bielsa with Chelsea.
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