A near perfect 2-0 win against Atlético Madrid in the Champions League last Wednesday was further proof that Chelsea’s ongoing 13-match unbeaten streak under manager Thomas Tuchel is no fluke. Better yet, these results are coming not because of a few players performing at the highest level, but rather due to how well the team is performing as a group, united towards the single objective of steamrolling teams for fun and glory.
Now it is time to shift focus back to domestic matters, with Chelsea hosting Sheffield United at Stamford Bridge. Although the Blades are not in the best of places this season with 14 points collected in 29 Premier League matches, we cannot let ourselves become another “magic of the cup” story by dropping our guard against a team that can still deliver some surprising results such as beating Manchester United at Old Trafford back in January.
Therefore we need not to change what has been our formula to success thus far, although room for experimentation — in the form of a new tactical shape under Tuchel, removing ourselves from the three-man defence even if temporarily, or using second-fiddle players — might exist.
Date / Time: Sunday, March 21, 2021, 13.30 GMT; 9:30am EDT; 7pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Andrew Madley (on pitch); Peter Bankes (VAR)
Forecast: Light cloud and a gentle breeze
On TV: BBC One (UK); none (USA); Sony TEN 2 (India); Startimes World Football, SuperSport MáXimo 1 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: BBC iPlayer (UK): ESPN+ (USA); Sony LIV (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Chelsea team news: Veteran centre-back Thiago Silva and centre-forward Tammy Abraham remain as our only concerns, although the latter is only doubtful to feature. Tuchel was also hopeful Tammy would be at least available for inclusion in his squad.
Sheffield United’s poor form throughout the season, explicit in their most recent result — a 5-0 loss to Leicester City away —, and the fact this is a cup match might give Tuchel an incentive to test different team formations and lineups. It might be too soon to see Tammy back on the pitch as a starter, but we should not be surprised if the likes of Kepa Arrizabalaga, Emerson Palmieri, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Christian Pulisic and Olivier Giroud are all given a chance to shine this Sunday.
While we would hard pressed to find reasons to complain about Chelsea’s defence, our attack is still lacking potency despite Tuchel and his players’ best efforts. Facing the PL’s third worse defence, with 50 goals against in 29 matches, might be the chance to give a proper boost to our current record of 15 goals scored in 13 games with Tuchel as boss.
Sheffield United team news: Not much else can be said about how poorly Sheffield United are performing this season, which has been a big surprise to many after ending last season in ninth place with 54 points right after returning to Premier League football.
Their injury list is not too long, with defenders John Egan, Jack Robinson and Jack O’Connell, and midfielders Sander Berge and Jack Rodwell unavailable. They had a boost right before the match with striker David McGoldrick able to train alongside the squad, with manager Paul Higginbotham hopeful to resort to the centre-forward this weekend.
It is difficult to describe Sheffield’s offensive efforts as anything other than awful. 16 goals were scored by the team in the Premier League with only nine matches left to end the season, with McGoldrick as the leading goalscorer with six scores in 26 league games. Hopes are the Irish striker will be kept way away from our goal.
Previously: Complete Chelsea domination in the scoreline with the Blues running as 2-1 winners in our last trip to Bramall Lane back in February.