Chelsea vs Sheffield United
Chelsea’s must-win Premier League clash against rock-bottom Sheffield United takes place at Stamford Bridge this weekend.
Chelsea’s dreadful five-game run in the Premier League, featuring just one win and three defeats (D1), including a disappointing 2-0 loss at Everton last weekend, has demoted them to the bottom half of the standings ahead of this round. Languishing closer to the relegation zone than the top four, the ‘Blues’ are in dire need of victory here, even though they’ve only won two of their last 12 home league outings (D5, L5). Chelsea’s defensive frailties have seen them concede at least once 11 times during that 12-game sequence, casting further doubt on Mauricio Pochettino’s bid to mastermind a clean sheet without injured captain Reece James. However, the visit of basement boys Sheffield United falls kindly to Chelsea’s hopes of bailing themselves out of trouble as they’ve emerged victorious in four of their last five home H2Hs (D1).
On the other hand, Sheffield United’s decision to sack underperforming manager Paul Heckingbottom and re-appoint Chris Wilder is starting to pay dividends, with the veteran tactician bouncing back from a 2-0 loss to Liverpool on his touchline debut with a gutsy 1-0 home win against Brentford last time out. But this is Wilder’s first away league game in charge since returning to Yorkshire, with the task of defying United’s disastrous record of six defeats from seven league games on the road this season (D1) waiting in the wings. It’s a mammoth task, in fact, considering his men have conceded an alarming 20 goals across those seven travels while only netting four in return. Poor starts have plagued United’s away fortunes, as they’re the only Premier League side yet to score a first-half goal on the road this term.