The first time Chelsea faced Sheffield United this season, way back in August on Matchday 4, turned out to be a microcosm of the season that was about to follow. The Blues played well to build a two-goal first half lead at Stamford Bridge but could not hang on to all three points, eventually conceding a last-minute equalizer on an unfortunate own goal.
The Chelsea are still dealing with many of the same issues that plagued the team four games into the season with four games left in the season is an indictment of all those involved, as well as an indication that this is all very much a work (still) in progress.
That Chelsea are still in the top four of the Premier League and in the final four of the FA Cup is a testament to all those involved, as well as an indication that if we can build on this season, we just might see a glorious future.
This preview has been brought to you by the number 4. Any bets on the total number of goals scored today?
Date / Time: Saturday, July 11, 2020, 17.30 BST; 12:30pm EDT; 10pm IST
Venue: Bramall Lane, Sheffield, England
Referees: Andre “Eagle Eyes” Marriner (on pitch); Andy “Not Bobby” Madley (VAR)
Forecast: Sunny maybe?
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); NBC, Universo (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); SuperSport 3 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: Sky Go (UK); NBC Sports Live, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (USA); Hotstar (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Sheffield United team news: The Blades turned out to be the biggest surprise-package of the season, with manager Chris Wilder confidently guiding his newly promoted side and their overlapping center backs to a top-six challenge.
But their form has suffered since the Restart, greatly at first (winless in three with two losses) before a 3-1 win over José Mourinho’s Spurs (can’t wait for that Amazon documentary!) righting the ship. They’re now unbeaten in three, with two wins including a 1-0 over fellow top-six contender Wolverhampton Wanderers on Wednesday — whom they trail by just one point for the final Europa League place (pending Manchester City’s UEFA ban appeal, the result of which will be announced on Monday).
United have no significant injury issues at the moment, though John Fleck is facing a late fitness test.
Chelsea team news: After a nearly injury-free Restart, Chelsea are once again picking up problems left and right and mostly in midfield. N’Golo Kanté remains out, and now Billy Gilmour’s done for the season and the next four months (at least) as well following knee surgery. Mateo Kovačić could be back however after a small Achilles problem.
The injuries could see Jorginho brought back in from the cold to start for the first time since late February. No such luck for young center back Fikayo Tomori, who remains out.
Chelsea moved up to third with Tuesday’s (lucky) win over Crystal Palace, but Leicester (1 point) and Manchester United (2 points) are breathing down our necks, just waiting for the next slip-up.
Previously: Frank Lampard and Michael Ballack scored, and Hilário saved a penalty the last time we visited Bramall Lane, in 2006.