Chelsea aim to make Premier League class count in this postponed Capital One Cup quarter-final, while Leeds may set a bigger priority on promotion from the Championship.
On a night interim manager Rafael Benítez says will be for strong characters and leaders of men on the pitch, Chelsea's foremost example, John Terry, is ruled out through injury.
With Gary Cahill suspended as a result of his red card in the FIFA Club World Cup final it seems likely Branislav Ivanovic will drop back into the centre of defence with César Azpilicueta retaining his place from the 5-4 win over Manchester United in this competition. They will most likely have to deal with 28-year-old Argentinean target man Luciano Becchio, with El-Hadj Diouf tucking in behind. Striker Ross McCormack returned from injury recently but was used sparingly in the last few games, and not at all against Ipswich. McCormack, Roger Tonge and Diouf tend to handle their set-plays.
Chelsea's defensive lapses in recent games will have encouraged the forwards at Elland Road, and this will naturally be one of the crucial battlegrounds of the game. The 31-year-old Senegalese Diouf (pictured below) is an aggressive, bustling kind of player who will feed off the crowd's energy. He has previously faced the Blues 14 times with four different clubs, and been on the winning side once, in January 2004.
Midfield regulars John Mikel Obi and Ramires are indisposed through suspension, while Oriol Romeu has a long-term injury. On the positive side Frank Lampard played his first 90 minutes for two and a half months on Sunday in the Club World Cup final and looked sharp.
The Capital One Cup is suddenly higher among Chelsea's priorities and Lampard's experience, leadership and winning mentality will be vital tonight. Juan Mata reported that the Londoner has been educating his teammates from overseas on the history of the rivalry between Chelsea and Leeds.
Much of this Leeds side are young, technical players who have often been low on confidence this season - except in this competition, where they have twice beaten second-string Premier League sides.
United manager Neil Warnock frequently tinkers with his line-ups, generally retaining the 4-4-1-1 shape, and may rest some players from this match. Former Pompey keeper Jamie Ashdown has played the majority of games in this competition so far, not Paddy Kenny.
Winger Jerome Thomas (on loan from West Bromwich Albion) was impressive in the weekend win over Ipswich but may play a part of this game with a key match against Middlesbrough ahead. He has only just returned from injury. Warnock said in his press conference that he would not play his full team.
Some choices will not be down to him. Left back Alan Tate, another loanee, from Swansea, is cup-tied. The participation of several regulars is also in doubt through injury, including versatile captain Lee Peltier and Jamaican midfielder Rodolph Austin.
The participation of the Whites' hard-working holding player could determine how well they deal with whichever of the 'three amigos' plays behind the front man in Rafael Benítez's 4-2-3-1 formation.
Daniel Sturridge is fit so offers an alternative to Fernando Torres, unless the manager wishes to try Victor Moses as a striker. The Nigerian may be better suited to causing trouble down Leeds' left side, and Warnock has no settled full-back there. He will also be concerned about the threat from Eden Hazard, who has been unstoppable in spells.
Given the magnitude of the match Benítez may select Petr Cech over Ross Turnbull. Young wide midfielder Lucas Piazon has started both games in this tournament to date, as has left-back Ryan Bertrand. Tall central midfielder George Saville, 19, and flexible 17-year-old defender Nathan Ake, have impressed enough in the past few weeks to train with the first team.
For Leeds, goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown is a doubt but Jerome Thomas and Lee Peltier hope to pass fitness tests. Rodolph Austin, Davide Somma, Leigh Bromby and Ramon Nunez are out.
Chelsea in the League Cup
Winners: 1965, 1998, 2005, 2007
Runners-up: 1972, 2008
Semi-finalists: 1973, 1985, 1991, 2002
Last 10 seasons in the League Cup
2001/02 - Semi-final
2002/03 - Quarter-final
2003/04 - Quarter-final
2004/05 - Winners
2005/06 - 3rd round
2006/07 - Winners
2007/08 - Runners-up
2008/09 - 4th round
2009/10 - Quarter-final
2010/11 - 3rd round
2011/12 - Quarter-final
Kerry Dixon is our leading scorer in the League Cup with 25 goals followed by Frank Lampard 11, Peter Osgood and Bobby Tambling 10 and Didier Drogba nine.
Last season the Blues went out of the League Cup at the quarter final stage to Liverpool 0-2.
Chelsea have won three of our last five penalty shoot-outs, the last being at the Allianz Arena for the Champions League final against Bayern Munich.
|Last six results|