Both sides hit the bar as Chelsea’s unbeaten run continued, but their push for a top-four finish took a minor hit in a 0-0 draw at Leeds.
Chelsea nearly took an early lead in unusual style as Luke Ayling’s clearance fired straight into Diego Llorente and back onto his own crossbar, shortly after Leeds had been denied an eighth-minute opener when Patrick Bamford was ruled just offside in teeing up Tyler Roberts to score.
The hosts struck the woodwork themselves when Roberts’ wonderful effort crashed off the goalframe thanks to a fingertip touch by Edouard Mendy.
The goalkeeper was again in fine form to readjust and keep out Raphinha’s close-range shot 10 minutes after half-time, while Kai Havertz and Antonio Rudiger tested Illan Meslier at the other end of the pitch.
But some wasteful Chelsea finishing, failing to beat the Frenchman despite registering seven shots on target, leaves them three points ahead of fifth-placed West Ham – who have played two games fewer than their London rivals.
Leeds: Meslier (7), Ayling (6), Llorente (7), Struijk (7), Alioski (6), Raphinha (6), Dallas (6), Phillips (6), Roberts (6), Harrison (5), Bamford (5).
Subs: Rodrigo (5), Costa (6), Klich (6).
Chelsea: Mendy (7), Rudiger (7), Christensen (6), Azpilicueta (6), Ziyech (6), Jorginho (6), Kante (8), Chilwell (6), Mount (7), Havertz (5), Pulisic (6).
Subs: James (6), Werner (6), Hudson-Odoi (6).
Man of the match: N’Golo Kante.
Aside from making as many tackles (3) as anyone else on the pitch, Kante won possession back 11 times.
Not only that, he was also a driving force behind getting Chelsea on the front foot, starting attacks and showing again why he is more than a midfield water carrier.
Leeds regain defensive solidity while Chelsea toil in attack
Goals looked likely to be on the menu at Elland Road given Leeds’ expansive style, and the opening quarter of an hour did little to dampen expectations, with an early Leeds goal, made by Bamford’s smart run and square for Roberts, ruled out by a marginal offside in the build-up.
Chelsea controlled the early possession but Meslier was more troubled by his own defenders than the opposition. Ayling’s powerful clearance left Meslier with his heart in his mouth as it cannoned off Llorente and over him, before rebounding to safety off the woodwork.
What the managers said…
Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa told BT Sport: “We value the point a lot, if there had to be a winner it wouldn’t have been us. In the first half they established a difference in comparison to us.
“In the second half we were slightly better. The superiority they showed in the first half was greater than the superiority we showed in the second half. If we don’t play at the rhythm we play at, the differences between us would be a lot bigger.”
Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel told BT Sport: “The pitch was super-hard to play. We had a couple of chances to go 1-0 up, and in the end they troubled us, and the more minutes you need to score, the more belief they have.
“There were enough chances, but sometimes it’s like this. I don’t want to be too harsh. As long as we have chances and touches in the box and don’t concede too many chances the results will be there. We need to accept this.”
Chelsea have won just 14% of their 50 away games against Leeds in all competitions (W7 D15 L28), their lowest win rate against any side they’ve faced at least 15 times on the road.
Thomas Tuchel is unbeaten in all 12 of his games in charge of Chelsea in all competitions, the joint-longest unbeaten start by a manager in the club’s history (Felipe Scolari also 12).
Leeds’ total possession figure of 38.1% is their lowest recorded in any of their 120 league games under Marcelo Bielsa.
Chelsea have drawn three of their 10 Premier League games under Thomas Tuchel 0-0, more than they did in 57 under Frank Lampard (2).
This was Leeds’ first draw in 19 Premier League games (W8 L10), since a goalless draw against Arsenal in November. All three of Leeds’ league draws this season have been at Elland Road.
Chelsea have conceded just two goals in their 10 Premier League games under Thomas Tuchel – no manager has conceded fewer in their first 10 games in charge in the competition’s history (level with José Mourinho in 2004-05).
Only Ederson (15) has kept more Premier League sheets among goalkeepers than Chelsea’s Édouard Mendy so far this season (14).
Chelsea host Atletico Madrid at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, taking a 1-0 lead into the second leg of their Champions League last-16 second leg; Kick-off at 8pm.