Frank Lampard tried to play down the advantage that Chelsea will have over Leeds United by having home fans at Stamford Bridge for the first time since March.
Chelsea can host 2,000 home fans for the game against Leeds on Saturday.
It’s the first time the two sides have met at Stamford Bridge since 2004 when Lampard was in the Chelsea side.
Talking to Football.London ahead of the game, Lampard said, “Will the fans coming back change it? I’m not sure they will.
“We want them back anyway for what it brings to the game. I don’t think 2,000 next week is going to change too much in terms of communication between the players on the pitch.”
However, on the latest episode of the Straight Outta Cobham Chelsea podcast on The Athletic, the feeling was very different.
Dom Fifield was asked if the fans could make a difference.
“Well yeah, they can make a noise,” Fifield said. “To have any kind of noise… There was a Northern Ireland game over the recent break against Slovakia and there were fans in that ground, probably only around 2,000 and it genuinely made a difference.
“We should also bear in mind from a supporters’ point of view how much they’ve missed going to their second home. For a supporter to be able to do that again, even if there aren’t many people around them it’s important.
Liam Twomey agreed saying, “For the lucky, lucky few who get to go, it’s a major, major thing.”
And Simon Johnson also disagreed with Lampard saying, “I think it will have an impact on the game on Saturday, I think the Chelsea players will want to put on a show for the fans who have paid good money to watch them.”
Attack v attack
The rivalry with Chelsea goes all the way back to the 60s and reared its head in the infamous FA Cup final in 1970.
The game was a fairly brutal affair and might not have seen the end if VAR had been in operation.
More recently, Frank Lampard has drawn the ire of Leeds fans with his comments on Spygate and some very unnecessary celebrations when Derby beat the Whites in the play-off semi-final in 2019.
Lampard isn’t going to admit that the fans give his side an advantage as he’ll want to take the credit himself if Chelsea win.
However, we think that it could be a fantastic game and we think Leeds could spring a shock.
The Chelsea journalists on Straight Outta Cobham have said it will be attack v attack and that could play into Leeds’ hands.
It’s certainly exactly the sort of game that the Leeds United players will be relishing and they’ve already shown they can go toe-to-toe with the best against Liverpool and Man City.
They were unlucky not to get anything from the Liverpool game and could have beaten Man City. Three points against Chelsea would be super-sweet on so many levels.
We do think Chelsea have the advantage with the fans, though. And we agree with Bielsa who said that fans shouldn’t have been allowed back until they could come back to all stadiums.
In other Leeds United news, MOT View: Bielsa to axe £15k/wk player in major change – Predicted Leeds XI v Chelsea