As Project Restart rolls on, Chelsea have been on a roll. In spite of the defeat at West Ham, the Blues have risen to third in the table with four games to play: now above Leicester City and Manchester United.
Last Time Out:
Chelsea drew 2-2 at home to Sheffield United, throwing away a two-goal lead that had been acquired in the first half. A stern Chris Wilder side awaits Chelsea on Saturday, who themselves are nine points behind the Blues at the start of the weekend. Chelsea need another spirited performance to remain in third, which would be a massive step toward Champion’s League Qualification.
Sheffield United – A Phenomenal Achievement
Sheffield United have been nothing short of sensational in their first season back to the Premier League. As Aston Villa and Norwich continue to struggle in the bottom half, Sheffield United have defied all expectations and currently sit at 7th in the Premier League table, ahead of Arsenal, Tottenham and Everton.
Chris Wilder has drilled his side to be efficient and effective on both ends of the pitch. They play a very familiar 3-5-2 system which has yielded them great results against some of the best opposition.
The Blades have a very good home record this season, losing just 5 of their 17 games played at Bramall Lane.
Since the restart, Sheffield United have won two of their three home fixtures – including an impressive 3-1 win over Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham.
The Tactical Battle
Sheffield United are a very dominant, aerially superior side on both defensive and offensive set pieces. They will sitting back and soak up the pressure. Their players try to win half challenges and press the opposing midfielders in an attempt to initiate counter attacks on the break by exploiting the width and putting in crosses in an attempt to pick out one of their two strikers upfront.
They will look to cause Chelsea problems on set pieces and play on the break, two of Chelsea’s biggest weaknesses as a defensive unit.
Sheffield United are, however, very weak in possession and are not as press resistant as Chelsea. They are prone to mistakes in possession and Chelsea are a team that look to initiate counters of their own on the break. Mason Mount’s work rate and pressing intensity can be invaluable to exploit that weakness.
Chelsea’s biggest threats will come from Christian Pulisic and Willian on the flanks as they look to engage in 1 v 1 scenarios, while picking out the runs of one the attacking midfielders in space. Chelsea need to take the most of their chances and capitalise on errors in the midfield while being clinical in the final third.
The Blues have scored 14 goals since the restart and have been much better going forward. Our issues, however, stem from the lack of concentration in defending set pieces and poor individual errors. Sheffield are not the most prolific goal scoring team either, netting only 35 goals all season long.
For Frank Lampard’s men to come out on top, they need to limit Sheffield United’s set piece chances and be a lot more clinical when possessing in the final third. Kurt Zouma’s aerial presence will help tackle our set piece troubles and the return of Jorginho to the side will provide a lot more stability to our midfield 3.
Early goals will put pressure on Wilder’s men who will often look to draw fouls in our defensive half and look for opportunities to deliver the ball into the box to get back into the game.
Chelsea’s chances of a win depends on how clinical the players are in the game. Making the most use out of possession and securing a quick 2-0 lead may help establish a bit more stability in defence and midfield while players avoid individual errors throughout the game. It will be a tough, hard fought game for Chelsea.
Chelsea’s latest injury to Billy Gilmour on Thursday could mean he is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury. Matteo Kovacic, who suffered a minor Achilles injury last week, has trained with the first team and is fit to travel.
We might not see N’Golo Kante feature in this game as he misses out to a minor hamstring injury. Frank Lampard is yet to confirm the availability of N’golo Kante for the fixture. Fikayo Tomori is not fit to face Sheffield United at this time.
Youngster Lewis Bate is likely to be in the squad.
John Fleck may not be fit to face Chelsea as he is sidelined with a Hip injury. Wilder mentions that he may need to take a late fitness test to assess his condition. David McGoldrick and Oliver McBurnie are both doubtful to face Chelsea and they are subject to late fitness tests as well. Sheffield United have no other injuries to report.
Sheffield United vs Chelsea
Saturday, 11 July 2020
Kick off – 6.30 PM BST
Edited by: Dan