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Preview: Chelsea vs. Sheffield United - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Premier League clash between Chelsea and Sheffield United, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

In-form Chelsea could move to within one point of Premier League leaders Liverpool when they welcome struggling Sheffield United to Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon.

Frank Lampard's men have put their defensive issues behind them after a shaky start to the campaign, and host a Sheffield United side still with only one point to their name this season.


Match preview

Chelsea's Timo Werner celebrates scoring against Rennes in the Champions League on November 4, 2020© Reuters

It was less than a month ago that Chelsea were being written off by most due to their inability to keep a clean sheet - a 3-3 draw with Southampton on October 17 making it nine goals conceded in their first five Premier League games.

Now, though, Frank Lampard appears to have struck a balance to his side, backing up successive goalless draw against Sevilla and Manchester United with three consecutive wins by an aggregate scoreline of 10-0.

The latest of those saw them cruise to a 3-0 triumph over Rennes in the Champions League on Wednesday and, while they were helped on their way by a harsh penalty and red card after only 41 minutes, they were still good value for their win.

Far from being a defensive liability, Chelsea have now kept five clean sheets on the bounce for the first time in more than a decade, and they come into this match unbeaten in their last five Premier League outings too.

The fact that three of those have been draws has stunted their progress somewhat, but they eased to victory at Burnley last weekend and will be expected to do something similar against the only other team still on one point alongside the Clarets on Saturday.

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard pictured on November 4, 2020© Reuters

Lampard has not seen his side win back-to-back league games yet this season, but at home they have won seven and lost only one of their last nine top-flight outings at Stamford Bridge.

However, Sheffield United are one of only four clubs who can boast a winning Premier League record against Chelsea, coming out on top four times and losing three to join Oldham Athletic, Liverpool and Arsenal in that exclusive club.

That includes the most recent such encounter when the Blades ran out comfortable 3-0 winners in July, although it has been pretty much downhill from there for Saturday's hosts.

Indeed, that victory remains Sheffield United's last in any competition - a winless run of 11 matches which constitutes the worst spell of Chris Wilder's managerial career.

In the Premier League alone they have gone 10 games without a win - taking only one point from a possible 30 in that time - which is their longest winless league run since March 2011.

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder pictured on October 31, 2020© Reuters

Sheffield United's form is perhaps not as bad as the results suggest - they have run Leeds United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City close in recent weeks - but Wilder will know getting points on the board is far more important that being valiant in defeat.

A home draw with Fulham has provided their only point of the campaign so far, making for their joint-worst ever start to a league campaign alongside 1975-76, when they went on to finish bottom of the top flight.

Not since 1990-91 have the Blades failed to win any of their first eight games of a season, but the difficult matches keep coming and there may not be too much optimism among supporters that they can avoid that fate at Stamford Bridge.

If Sheffield United are to improve their league position then priority number one must be scoring more goals; in a ludicrously high-scoring season, Wilder's side have contributed a joint league-low three goals so far.

Indeed, since the restart in June they have failed to score in a league-high nine games, while since beating Chelsea in July they have found the back of the net just four times in 10 games, two of which were penalties.

Chelsea Premier League form: LDWDDW
Chelsea form (all competitions): DDDWWW

Sheffield United Premier League form: LLLDLL


Team News

Chelsea's Kai Havertz in action in October 2020© Reuters

Chelsea will be without Kai Havertz for this match after he tested positive for coronavirus ahead of Wednesday's Champions League win over Rennes.

Christian Pulisic is also out after pulling out of last weekend's Burnley game in the warm-up and, while his hamstring injury is not thought to be serious, Lampard will not take any risks over a player who has only just returned from a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a similar problem.

Billy Gilmour is the only other absentee for the Blues, who had the luxury of taking off a few players early in midweek.

Timo Werner scored twice in that match after succeeding Jorginho as Chelsea's penalty-taker, and the German also has three goals and one assist in his last three Premier League outings.

At the other end, Edouard Mendy is looking to become only the fourth keeper in Premier League history to keep clean sheets in each of his first four starts in the competition, following in the footsteps of Alex Manninger, Pepe Reina and Anders Lindegaard.

Across all competitions the new signing has only let in one goal in seven Chelsea appearances; Kepa Arrizabalaga conceded 14 in his last six for the club.

Sheffield United will be without Ethan Ampadu as he is ineligible to face his parent club, further limiting Wilder's defensive options with Jack O'Connell sidelined for the season too.

John Fleck is also still absent, while Lys Mousset is not expected back until next month.

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Mendy; James, Silva, Zouma, Chilwell; Jorginho, Kante; Ziyech, Mount, Werner; Abraham

Sheffield United possible starting lineup:
Ramsdale; Basham, Egan, Stevens; Baldock, Berge, Norwood, Osborn, Lowe; McBurnie, Brewster


SM words green background

We say: Chelsea 2-0 Sheffield United

It is increasingly hard to back Sheffield United in any game at the moment, yet alone away to a Chelsea side really beginning to find their feet after such heavy summer investment.

The Blades do not lose by big scorelines in general and will no doubt make Chelsea work for the points, but the hosts should have more than enough to pile more misery onto Sheffield United's shoulders.


Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a home win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home Win:data


Video prediction

Watch the Sports Mole Football Shorts prediction for this game below:


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Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder pictured on October 31, 2020
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City32235467234474
2Manchester UnitedMan Utd32199464352966
3Leicester CityLeicester31175955371856
4West Ham UnitedWest Ham32167953421155
5Chelsea31159750311954
6Liverpool32158954381653
7Tottenham HotspurSpurs321481054371750
8Everton31147104340349
9Arsenal32137124436846
10Leeds UnitedLeeds32144145050046
11Aston Villa301351243331044
12Wolverhampton WanderersWolves32118133241-941
13Crystal Palace31108133352-1938
14Southampton31106153956-1736
15Newcastle UnitedNewcastle3298153553-1835
16Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton31712123338-533
17Burnley3289152645-1933
18Fulham33512162543-1827
19West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom3159172859-3124
RSheffield UnitedSheff Utd3242261756-3914

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