Chelsea have shown promising signs since the appointment of Frank Lampard, but the new boss needs a consistent run of wins to totally convince people of his credentials. The upcoming matches will fill supporters with confidence. This weekend, they welcome Sheffield United to Stamford Bridge, who have taken as many points as their hosts have this season. Due to his time in charge of Derby County, the Blues’ manager will not underestimate the visitors, as many other Premier League managers may do over the course of the campaign. It will be a tough contest, but the home side will be expected to take three points.
The task for Lampard is to integrate the talented young players at the squad. Mason Mount received an England call-up earlier this week following his excellent start to the season. Meanwhile, Tammy Abraham has had ups and downs, but his brace against Norwich showed his qualities and Lampard believes he can be the starting striker for the club. Reece James and Callum Hudson-Odoi are likely to come into the squad after the international break. It is an exciting time for Chelsea and everybody needs to remain patient for it to pay off.
Sheffield United have already captured the imagination with some of their tactical ideas. Chris Wilder likes to play with overlapping centre-backs, who are asked to step forward to add creativity to attacks. It can be really effective when it works, but there is no doubt that it is a risk in the Premier League. They will go to Stamford Bridge without fear, having seen the success that Norwich had against Chelsea last weekend. There is definitely an opportunity for the newly-promoted club if they perform well.
- In the match against Norwich, Chelsea had two English scorers aged 21 or under for the first time since August 1992.
- Sheffield United have become the first Premier League team to field an all British and Irish starting eleven in their first three matches of the season since Wolves in 2011/12.
The English midfielder has been one of the players to make headlines over the opening weeks of the season. It was a risk for Lampard to integrate a player that he had relied on during his time as Derby County manager. If Mount failed to perform, it would have been easy for critics to use it as a stick to beat the manager with. During the opening weeks, the homegrown star has been used in an advanced role and he has been encouraged to get forward in support of the lone striker. It is a slightly different role than the one he had at Derby, but it underlines the faith that the coaching team have in him. He is one of those that will be expected to help fill the void of Eden Hazard and early indications suggest that he will offer a goal threat on a weekly basis. The 20-year-old has two goals already, with an average of four shots per game. He will be one of the main threats to Sheffield United this weekend.
This is Oliver Norwood’s first opportunity to establish himself in the Premier League following a number of impressive spells at promotion-chasing Championship clubs. At 28-years-old, he is now ready to take on the very best in the country and he has performed well early on. During the week, he found the back of the net in the Carabao Cup against Blackburn Rovers, displaying the goal threat he showed in the Championship. Norwood was at his best in the team’s win over Crystal Palace two weeks ago, as he made five key passes and three ball recoveries. He is very much the key man in the Sheffield United midfield, as he has the tenacity to win the ball back and the vision to create attacking opportunities. There are no egos in this team, but there are a couple of stars that are key to the style. The 28-year-old is one of those. Chelsea have been vulnerable and left spaces in their own half, the Northern Irishman will be needed to take advantage of those.
Pedro and N’Golo Kante are doubts for the weekend, with Lampard likely to err on the side of caution and rest them. Callum Hudson-Odoi, Reece James and Antonio Rudiger are edging closer to returns, but they are not likely to feature until after the international break. Ruben Loftus-Cheek remains on the sidelines.
John Fleck has been an absentee and he is likely to miss the trip to Stamford Bridge. Ravel Morrison is in contention after an impressive performance in the Carabao Cup. Oliver McBurnie will be hoping to start following his first Blades’ goal last weekend.
This is going to be another great indication of this Frank Lampard era at Chelsea. They weren’t completely convincing against Norwich City, with defensive concerns clear for all to see. Sheffield United will be looking to exploit that, with their own positive brand of football. The Blues need to be more dominant at home. They are likely to win this weekend, but a clean sheet is unlikely based off last weekend’s showing at Carrow Road.
Chelsea 3-1 Sheffield United