Sheffield United will be squaring up against Chelsea at Bramall Lane Stadium on Saturday evening in their 35th league match.
Both teams are aiming to qualify for European competition with Chelsea recently leapfrogging Leicester city into the 3rd position while the Blades are currently occupying the 7th position.
Their previous encounter this season ended in a 2-2 draw, but their meeting on Saturday evening will be much more a strong battle between both teams.
Regardless of the manager’s tactics, some players have proven their ability to be consistent in their performances, which has undoubtedly played a major role in their team’s success thus far. We’ll be looking into some key clashes which are capable of deciding the outcome of their encounter.
Chris Basham vs Christian Pulisic
Chris Basham has been a regular figure at the defence for the Blades this season. He has featured in all 34 league matches for Sheffield. He has consistently played a pivotal role in Sheffield’s impressive season in the top flight.
Playing on the right side of the three-man defense, the 31-year-old will undoubtedly need to curtail much of Christian Pulisic’s threats from his domain.
While Christian Pulisic has had a strong start after the restart of the league. The highly skillful winger have been involved in 12 goals from 21 league appearances, with 3 goals and 2 assists coming in his last five matches.
His goal contribution in each of his previous 5 matches since the league restarted will surely be a motivating factor for the young talented winger. While coming against Sheffield’s experience defender Basham, Pulisic will undoubtedly need to display another masterclass performance on Saturday evening.
John Egan vs Olivier Giroud
The Irish international defender has won 4 points for the Sheffield of the two goals he scored against Burnley and Wolves. Egan has been integral to the Blades helping them achieve unbelievable position in the Premier League table so far.
The 27-year-old has shown that he’s a tough defender and a fantastic ball playing centre-back. He has been playing an important role from the middle of a back three in Sheffield’s defence.
Due to his aerial prowess and game reading ability, his expected role in nullifying Giroud’s aerial dominance and movements on and off the ball will be very vital for Chris Wilder’s side.
The French international and World cup winner Olivier Giroud has recently fought his way back into Chelsea manager Frank Lampard’s team. He had been struggling to get regular playing time under the new manager, haveing been left on the bench throughout the ninety on seven occassions, while coming on as a substitute 5 times and being left out of the match day squad 13 times.
Before the league was suspended due to Covid-19, he had only found the back of the net twice in nine matches he had featured in but since the league restarted, Giroud has scored 3 goals in just 5 matches thus far.
His motivation to win the heart of his manager will surely enhance his performance against the Blades.
Oliver McBurnie vs Kurt Zouma
The Scotland international has clearly been Chris Wilder’s favoured striker and looks like a guaranteed partner to either Lys Mousset or Billy Sharp. McBurnie looks to be having a difficult time in finding the back of the net but his all-round play has being of great importance to the team’s play and chances.
Mcburnie has an excellent hold up, bringing his teammates into play with decisive passes. His strength and movements will undoubtedly give Chelsea’s defense some problems, unless he’s being marked by an intelligent defender who has the same strength and ability to read attacker’s movements. A strong defender like Kurt Zouma might do the magic?
Chelsea’s rock solid defender Kurt Zouma has recently won his place in the team’s defense this season.
Kurt Zouma is known for his power, pace and tackles. A no nonsense defender who has been a nightmare to several attackers. Indeed, if there’s anyone capable of coming up toe-to-toe against McBurnie, I think Zouma (the rock) will stand a chance to prove his ability against the Ireland international.
Sander Berge vs Mason Mount
Sheffield’s Norwegian record signing Sander Berge is already proving his potential in the Premier league so far. The young defensive midfielder has been really impressive for the Blades, hereby, making it hard for Lundstram to get more playing time.
His ability to make decisive tackles and interceptions makes him a difficult player to play against. Especially his ability to cut off a counter attacking threats with his excellent reading of the game are part of why he’s such an asset to the team. He really plays the role of a defensive midfielder and gives his defenders much confidence with his presence.
If there’s any player capable of disconnecting or limiting Chelsea’s attackers from getting necessary services from their creative players, Sander Berge is undoubtedly the player to cause the Blues such problem.
Mason Mount is young but has similar attributes which can be liken with Chelsea’s current manager Frank Lampard during his playing days. Their ability to connect decisive passes to their attackers or make a shadow presence in the box to poach the ball into the net, are the kind of attributes which has seen the youngster featuring prominently in the team.
He has 6 goals and 5 assists in 34 league appearances.
But for Sheffield United to have any hope of coming on top on Saturday evening, Berge has to be around the youngster to limits his involvement in the game.
Oliver Norwood vs Jorginho
A good tactician once said: “when the battle is won at the midfield, the game is half won”.
Oliver Norwood has combined well with the likes of Lundstram, Berge et all. Forming a strong five-man midfield in order to outplay their opponents from the middle of the park.
Norwood has being an ever present figure for the Blades who has been breaking down opposition passes. His ability to control the game from deep position will once again prove to be a useful tactics in order to overpower Chelsea’s technically gifted midfielders.
As an all-round player, Norwood will undoubtedly be in the midst of the midfield battle against the likes of Mount, Ross Barkley, Jorginho or Kovacic. Norwood’s tenacity and strength will be vital in Saturday’s game.
Jorginho who is likely to start alongside Mason Mount and Ross Barkley will be gearing to make an impression in Saturday’s meeting with the Blades.
The former Napoli star will surely be at the heart of every action. With his excellent passes, skills, positioning and composure, Jorginho’s experience and contributions will be needed to make things work out for his teammates.
Jorginho might not be the fastest nor the most skillful player on the field, but his ability to read the game, make tackles and interceptions along with his accurate short & long passes will give Sheffield a lot of work to do in the midfield.