Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United have secured promotion into the top flight for the first time in sixteen years.
Their last game in England’s top division came away at Chelsea in a 1-0 defeat. When Bielsa’s Leeds encounter Frank Lampard’s Chelsea side in the 2020/21 season, we will see the renewal of a historical rivalry.
Additionally, there’ll be a resumption of a recently forged clash between the two managers as a result of Lampard’s stint with Derby County.
The incident in which Marcelo Bielsa ultimately admitted sending somebody to spy on a Derby training session in the build-up to a league fixture last year was well-documented.
It culminated in a £200,000 fine for the Yorkshire outfit. Lampard was incensed by Bielsa’s unsportsmanlike conduct, prompting the “stop crying Frank Lampard” chant. Leeds fans sang this loud and clear during Leeds’ play-off semifinal first-leg victory at Pride Park.
Lampard however, had the last laugh, as Derby overturned that first-leg deficit with a sensational 4-2 victory at Elland Road.
This sparked jubilant celebrations, including the mockery of the Spygate incident. While Lampard has since taken the managerial reins at Stamford Bridge, Leeds and Derby renewed rivalries in the Championship after Derby failed to earn promotion.
In a twist of fate, Leeds’ first game having secured promotion was away at Derby, with hostilities between the two clubs still evident. Leeds’ official Twitter account posted videos mocking Spygate.
This will not be lost on Lampard and the repercussions of Spygate are sure to be at the forefront of the build-up to the two meetings of Bielsa and Lampard next season as the two clubs renew a long rivalry.
Chelsea v Leeds – 1970
Chelsea and Leeds competed in the 1970 FA Cup Final, described as the most brutal game in English Football history. Chelsea’s 2-1 win in the Replay at Old Trafford was their first FA Cup triumph.
The rivalry between the two clubs is fierce and epitomised the country’s north-south divide. Chelsea were seen as flash city boys in contrast to Leeds’ working-class roots and this only added fuel to the fire in clashes between the sides.
On the pitch, the rivalry was developing from the mid-1960s when both clubs achieved promotion to the First Division in consecutive years. In 1967, Chelsea defeated Leeds 1-0 in an FA Cup semifinal which acted as a precursor to the 1970 Final. When Premier League referee Michael Oliver rewatched the infamous fixture, he alleges that eleven red cards should have been issued in the match. This highlights the animosity between the two sides that had developed in the years before. Chelsea’s winning goalscorer, David Webb, would have been one recipient of a red card, according to Oliver. The Final has its placed secured in FA Cup history. It is the sixth most-watched football match ever in the UK. Chelsea and Leeds fixtures were on everybody’s lips during this period.
Chelsea won that day in 1970, yet despite the teams’ differing fortunes in the periods since, the Chelsea-Leeds rivalry remains entrenched in both clubs. The Bielsa-Lampard dynamic adds another edge to what is a clash of two clubs with a famous history. There is no doubt that for fans of both clubs, the Chelsea v Leeds fixture will be one of the first to catch the eye when the new season’s fixtures are released.