A slow start by Chelsea had manager Thomas Tuchel justifiably complaining at the sidelines about the Blues’ lack of intensity in front of a Sheffield United looking for a “smash and grab” kind of game — which they almost had in the first minute of the match via our old acquaintance, David McGoldrick.
Luckily we were granted a first-half gift by the Blades. A loose ball right after a corner kick was cleared into the net by Sheffield United defender Oliver Norwood, opening the score 24 minutes into the match.
Chances were still hardly coming by after the opener. The Blues did not seem unhappy to just keep possession and impede Sheffield from creating with the ball on feet, even though the latter did not come by easily for the visitors in the few opportunities they had.
The spell of sheer boredom mixed with the usual tension of a slim lead over a tricky opponent was broken by Christian Pulisic at the end of the first half with a great chance created and wasted by him. That was followed by yet another great play from the American wonderkid once we got back to the pitch from half-time, with the first shot saved by Aaron Ramsdale and the rebound shot going over the bar.
The Blades got their best chance of the game again via McGoldrick, with one of the most egregious misses you will see this season. It was a clear sign of Chelsea letting their guard drop while Sheffield filled the gaps left by the team, winning key challenges in midfield and trying their utmost to threaten Kepa Arrizabalaga between our goalposts.
Tuchel used all five of his substitutions to make things not so nerve-wracking for the Blues, but those did not have the expected effect. But we still manage to endure the brave efforts of the Blades, holding onto the one-goal lead and then doubling it via Ziyech a few minutes before the whistle was blown to end the match at the Bridge.
- After much confusion on who is really starting today, we had the final answer with loads of rotation right after a gritty display against Atlético Madrid in the Champions League. Only defender Kurt Zouma and midfielder Mateo Kovacic remain as starters from the previous match.
- Subs are César Azpilicueta for Olivier Giroud, Reece James for Andreas Christensen, Hakim Ziyech for Billy Gilmour, Kai Havertz for Callum Hudson-Odoi and N’Golo Kanté for Christian Pulisic.
- 22-year old Mason Mount as captain today! Interesting (and deserving) choice.
- Christian Pulisic was on a mission to show Thomas Tuchel he deserves more chances with his dribbles today. The only thing he missed was a goal or an assist to make his lack of playing time more unjustifiable.
- Emerson showed he can be a threat in attack with his goal against Atlético Madrid last Wednesday. He gets in reward a start... as centre-back. (although he looked good while doing it!)
- Very underwhelming performance from Chelsea in the second half. While we can give them a discount for tiredness, we gave Sheffield way too many chances to make what should have been a prototypical walk in the park into a nail-biting affair.
- Next up: West Bromwich at Stamford Bridge for the Premier League, once the international break is over in two weeks.