Chelsea will be aiming to make it four wins in a row across all competitions when they lock horns with Sheffield United at Stamford Bridge this weekend.
Matchweek eight of the 2020/21 Premier League is underway and Chelsea, who are in fine form of late, will be in action on Saturday when they play hosts to a struggling Sheffield United outfit at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues, who are seventh in the league table, have turned a corner after a rather middling start to the campaign, with their performances improving vastly in both attack and defence. Frank Lampard’s men are currently on a seven-game unbeaten run in all competitions, most recently beating French outfit Rennes 3-0 in the UEFA Champions League.
Sheffield United have struggled to get going in the new campaign and are rooted to the bottom of the table, with one point from seven games. The Blades have been in poor form pretty much since football resumed post-lockdown last season, having failed to win any of their last ten outings in the Premier League, with their latest game ending in a 1-0 defeat to Manchester City.
The corresponding fixture last season saw Sheffield United claw back from being 2-0 down to level things up and salvage a point at Stamford Bridge. And ahead of their latest meeting on Saturday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
Chelsea have a couple of key roster issues to deal with as Christian Pulisic remains out with a thigh injury whereas marquee summer signing Kai Havertz is in self-isolation after testing positive for coronavirus. Kepa Arrizabalaga has recovered from his shoulder injury though, while youngster Billy Gilmour is also closing in on a return.
There are unlikely to be any changes made to the side that eased past Rennes in midweek in the Champions League. Edouard Mendy has done more than enough to establish himself as the undisputed first-choice in goal and Kepa’s return to fitness shouldn’t affect his position in the starting XI.
Reece James is likely to be stuck with at right-back ahead of captain Cesar Azpilicueta, while summer signing Ben Chilwell should continue on the left, ahead of Marcos Alonso and Emerson Palmieri. The centre-back partnership of Kurt Zouma and Thiago Silva has been rock solid and Lampard isn’t likely to tinker with that.
Chelsea’s three-man midfield setup should see Jorginho stationed at the base, with N’Golo Kante providing the box-to-box presence on one side and Mason Mount given the license to attack on the other side. Mateo Kovacic, who had been an ever-present last term, will have to suffice with a spot on the bench once again.
With no Christian Pulisic available, Lampard could stick with Timo Werner on the left flank again, with Tammy Abraham occupying the centre-forward slot. Although, the manager has the option of Callum Hudson-Odoi for the wide areas. Hakim Ziyech should be a certainty on the right-wing after his recent impressive performances.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Mendy; James, Zouma, Silva, Chilwell; Kante, Jorginho, Mount; Ziyech, Abraham, Werner
Lys Mousset and John Fleck continue to remain sidelined for Wilder’s side, while Jack O’Connell is potentially ruled out for the rest of the season due to a knee injury. On-loan ace Ethan Ampadu, who has been a regular in the side, will be ineligible to play against his parent club, Chelsea.
In spite of results not going their way, there have been a few positives in Sheffield United’s recent performances. So, Wilder is unlikely to tinker a lot with the team that he has been picking of late. Aaron Ramsdale, who was pivotal in the Blades not suffering a heavy defeat against Manchester City last week, ought to continue in goal.
£22m Sander Berge standing out like a bright light in this Sheff Utd side from this right-sided number 8 role
Escaping Man City’s pressure & playing forwards in central areas
— Premier League Panel (@PremLeaguePanel) October 31, 2020
The ex-Bournemouth man will have protection from the three-man defence of Chris Basham, John Egan and Enda Stevens, who has been used as the left-sided centre-back in O’Connell’s absence. George Baldock and new signing Max Lowe are likely to continue as the wing-backs on the right and left sides respectively.
With Ampadu unavailable, skipper Oliver Norwood should start as the deepest of the central midfielders for Sheffield United. He will have support from Sander Berge, who has impressed so far this term, with Ben Osborn occupying the remaining slot in the middle of the park.
Rhian Brewster hasn’t had the best of starts to his Sheffield United career since his big-money move from Liverpool. However, he is likely to get another opportunity as his pace can cause a few problems to Thiago Silva. There could be a change of partners for the youngster though, with the hard-working David McGoldrick likely to start ahead of Oliver McBurnie.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Ramsdale; Basham, Egan, Stevens; Baldock, Berge, Norwood, Osborn, Lowe; Brewster, McGoldrick
- Chelsea Clean Sheet – NO @ 1.72
- Full-Time Result – Draw or Sheffield United @ 3.00
- Chelsea will be looking to extend their unbeaten run to eight games across all competitions since they were eliminated on penalties to Tottenham in the Carabao Cup.
- Sheffield United were unbeaten against Chelsea in the 2019/20 campaign. Their most recent defeat to the Blues came in the top-flight in 2006/07. On that occasion, Jose Mourinho’s side won both home and away with a 5-0 aggregate scoreline.
- Frank Lampard’s side have kept five consecutive clean sheets in all competitions for the first time since September/October 2010, when club legend Petr Cech was in goal.
- Sheffield United haven’t kept a clean sheet at Stamford Bridge in 98 years (!). Their last shut-out away to Chelsea came in October 1922, with the Blades conceding in each of their 31 games since.
- Chelsea have scored with 18.8% of their efforts on goal (16/85), which is the third-highest success-rate in the Premier League this season.
Player to Watch
From the start of the 2019/20 season, Timo Werner now has 41 goals in 56 appearances in all competitions.
He’s 5th for goals in Europe during that time – 2nd for non-penalty goals.
— LDN (@LDNFootbalI) November 5, 2020
After a rather tepid start to life in London, the 24-year-old striker is starting to find his groove of late. Werner has already racked up a return of 7 goals and 3 assists from 11 matches in all competitions for Chelsea. 6 of the German international’s 7 strikes have come in his last 4 appearances, including a match-winning brace against Rennes in midweek.
Now that he seems to have finally found his feet in Lampard’s side, the Chelsea fans can expect to see the best of Werner in the weeks to come. Another starring display against Sheffield United could definitely be on the cards this weekend.
Chelsea 3-0 Sheffield United
Sheffield United have endured a torrid start to the season and even though they showed fight in their last two matches against Liverpool and Manchester City, they will be coming up against a Chelsea side whose confidence will be sky-high.
Indeed, Frank Lampard’s side seem to have finally found the right balance between attack and defence, as seen by their five consecutive clean sheets in all competitions. The Blues should, in all likelihood, extend their unbeaten run to eight matches, with another comfortable victory on the cards this weekend.