On a weekend littered with big games, Chelsea look to make it four wins, six clean sheets, and eleven unbeaten in a row tomorrow when Sheffield United come to town.
Last time we faced Chris Wilder’s overlapping center backs, we produced one of the worst performances of the Lampard Era — “beat us in every department,” recounted Lampard earlier today in his press conference — and while technically that was away at Bramall Lane, and Sheffield United were doing a lot better back then than they are now, we’ll have to be on top of our game once again.
The longer winning streaks and unbeaten runs go on, the harder they tend to become to maintain and the more disappointing it becomes if and when they do inevitably end. This is the last match before the international break, so let’s not mess it up.
Date / Time: Saturday, November 7, 17.30 GMT; 12.30pm EST; 11pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Jonathan Moss (on pitch); Kevin Friend (VAR) — like the nexus of suck, this pairing
Forecast: Cool with a light breeze
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); NBC, Universo (USA); Star Sports Select HD2 (India); SuperSport Premier League, Canal+ Sport 3 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: Sky Go (UK); NBC Sports Live, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (USA); Hotstar (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Chelsea team news: Christian Pulisic is out thanks to his newest hamstring injury and Kai Havertz is out thanks to COVID-19, which limits our options up front. Fortunately Timo Werner might be a terminator sent back from the future who never needs rest. No problemo.
Chelsea seem to have found the right formula in the 4-3-3, with either Kanté or Jorginho sitting at the base of the midfield triangle and two box-to-box No.8s (Mount, Havertz, Kanté, Kovačić) roaming ahead. Lampard has become known throughout his brief, 2.5-year management career of tinkering quite a bit with his lineups and formations, but he just might stick with this for a while — provided the results keep coming of course.
Sheffield United team news: Perhaps no team have been more affected in terms of results by the pandemic than United. When COVID-19 first hit in March, the Blades were seventh with 43 points and a game-in-hand on most others, including Chelsea, who had 48 points at the time. Since then, they’ve won three (3!) games from twenty (20) played in all competitions, including none this season (8 played) — one of those was the aforementioned 3-0 against Chelsea, which made that result during Project Restart even more shockingly bad for us.
It’s unclear what exactly has gone so badly wrong for Chris Wilder — other than losing goalkeeper Dean Henderson, who’s gone back to Manchester United after his loan (could be a big difference, as we’ve seen at Chelsea) — but chances are he will turn things around before their league position becomes irrecoverable. It hasn’t helped that three of their last four games have been against Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester City, losing each by a single goal.
John Fleck (nephew of ex-Chelsea Robert Fleck), Lys Mousset, and Jack O’Connell are out, while Ethan Ampadu is ineligible against his parent club as per standard loan terms.
Previously: Our first meeting in 12 years ended in a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge last season, with an unfortunate Kurt Zouma own goal completing the Blades’ second-half comeback. Those sorts of silly results used to be de rigueur for Lampard’s Chelsea, but we’ve kicked that habit now, right?