Neil Warnock: Leeds relishing chance to do a Bradford over Chelsea


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The Independent Football

Eight days after Bradford City upset Arsenal, the Leeds United manager, Neil Warnock, hopes for another triumph of Yorkshire over London in the Capital One Cup tonight.

This evening sees the fourth and final quarter-final, as Leeds host Chelsea at Elland Road. It is one of the fiercest rivalries in English football and should, in theory, be an even tighter game than Bradford and Arsenal was last week.

Warnock certainly hopes his Leeds side can emulate Bradford's achievements this evening. His players have been practising penalty kicks, in case it ends the same way as last week's tie did. Bradford won their ninth consecutive shoot-out.

"We will be practising penalties," Warnock said. "[Bradford] should be teaching England. Are they English, the players taking them?"

The Leeds manager acknowledged, though, that there was only so much value to practice. "You can't replicate it in training. I can score every time in training but I couldn't do it in front of a crowd. I never forgot taking one in front of a crowd. I would never ever shout at someone for missing a penalty because I wouldn't have the [bottle] to do it."

There should certainly be an intense atmosphere at Elland Road, given the deep roots of this fixture and the time of year.

"Win or lose, it will be a great night," Warnock said. "The whole eyes of the country will be on it because there is nothing else on. We are taking on one of the top three clubs in the country and we want to show what a good team we are. I don't think there will be any moments where you fall asleep watching this game."

Rafael Benitez is looking forward to the challenge so soon after Chelsea's disappointment in the Club World Cup. "Every trophy is important, " he said. "We have a chance to go through to a semi-final. If we go through will look to win it. We want every trophy."

Benitez said that rotating his team would not necessarily mean weakening it. "Imagine I say Ashley Cole," he suggested. "Ashley Cole is a fantastic player. Do you think Cole would be, after playing so many games, fitter than [Ryan] Bertrand who is not playing but is younger and ready? I am sure Bertrand would be desperate to play, so maybe he is the strongest player in the position, for this game."

Benitez insisted that he would not be distracted by any previous issues with Warnock. In 2007 Benitez fielded a weakened Liverpool team which was beaten by Fulham, who stayed up at the expense of Warnock's Sheffield United.

The new Chelsea manager said he would focus on the immediate priorities of the match rather than any long-running dispute. "Everybody has their ideas," Benitez said. I'm a professional and I don't get involved in anything. I'm a professional so I will do my job. I'm a professional and have to behave."

Regarding the specific grievance over Sheffield United's relegation, Benitez said that the league "is about 38 games, not one". Regarding the email he sent to Warnock advising him against further discussing the issue at the time, Benitez said: "I didn't remember this email. It's true but I didn't remember it. I will be concentrating my job."

Kick-off 7.45pm

Ref A Marriner (West Midlands)

TV Sky Sports 1 (Highlights 11.15pm, BBC1)

Odds Leeds United 10-3 Draw 11-4 Chelsea 4-5

Whites v Blues

Previous battles

* 29 Apr 1970: Chelsea 2-1 Leeds

Dave Sexton's Chelsea came from behind in a bitter FA Cup final replay at Old Trafford to win the trophy for the first time. Peter Osgood and David Webb were Chelsea's goalscorers.

* 28 Apr 1984: Chelsea 5-0 Leeds

The London side ran out emphatic winners to clinch promotion back to the First Division, as police struggled to separate rival supporters on the terraces.

* 19 Dec 1999: Chelsea 0-2 Leeds

Chelsea's Franck Leboeuf was sent off in between two late Stephen McPhail goals, which took David O'Leary's side to the top of the Premier League.

* 28 Apr 2001: Leeds 2-0 Chelsea

Robbie Keane and Mark Viduka struck late on in a bad-tempered match as the clubs battled for a Champions League place.

* 28 Jan 2003: Chelsea 3-2 Leeds

Eidur Gujohnsen's superb overhead-kick equalised Harry Kewell's opener as Chelsea twice came from behind to take the points at Stamford Bridge.

Josh Bell