Date: Sunday 21st March 2021
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Kick-off: 13:30 GMT
After a win in the Champions League midweek, today it’s an FA Cup quarter final against Sheffield United at Stamford Bridge.
In the Premier League, Sheffield United are having an awful time, with just 14 points on the board so far, so today will be a big deal for their season. For Chelsea, we’ve won nine and drawn four of the last 13 games in all competitions. We’ve had 11 cleans sheets from those games, including the last 6, and the last time we conceded at home was in the fourth round of the FA Cup to Luton. We’re not the finished article yet though because whilst we’re more assured defensively, we lack the same sort of composure in the final third, and as sharp as we looked against Atletico Madrid, just days earlier, we looked blunt against Leeds.
Our opponents today meanwhile, were battered in their last game against Leicester and in all competitions, they have lost their last four on the road without scoring a single goal. They haven’t got to this stage by losing though and whilst their run to the quarter final has seen them face Bristol Rovers, Plymouth Argyle and Bristol City, ours has included Morecambe, Barnsley and Luton.
Chelsea who have won the FA Cup eight times, have made it to the quarter-finals 14 times in the last 20 years and reached the semi-finals four times out of the last five. Sheffield United have reached the quarter finals for the second successive year and whilst they have lost six of their last nine away FA Cup games against top-flight sides, they are on a three-match winning away run in the cup.
To drag out an old cliché though, this really will be the Blades’ FA Cup game, so for all their struggles, they might just surprise us today. I’d certainly be surprised if it’s anything like the walkover some are predicting anyway.
Going into today’s game, Thomas Tuchel, says “I am impressed by the club, the structure, and the support from the first minute. I am even impressed with the feeling I got on the first day I had here. I am impressed by my team, the attitude of the players, their capability to play at an intense level. I am impressed by their approach to training and games. This is an amazing experience and feeling for me. So we never thought about what was possible and what the limit was, that will never change. We go game-by-game, step-by-step. But to arrive at a club like this as a coach, with a team like this where everyone thinks about football, how to win the next game, how to push, how to feel that bond, it makes for a very unique atmosphere and approach to performance. They want to be tired after training and after games. To play at this level is impressive and in the end, it’s what makes it possible to be serious. We clearly need luck, little decisions, a bit of momentum, this is normal. But the foundation for all this comes from the players and the club. It’s easy for me to do my best, as everyone expects. It feels very good, deserved. I hope that everybody, and I truly feel it, know why we’ve had these results.
Is it possible to win against Sheffield on Sunday, yes it is possible. Is it easy? No. if you want to win, if you want to be in Wembley you need to win this game. There is no other approach. Is it possible to win the FA Cup? Yes for sure. Is it possible to win the Champions League when you arrive in the quarter-final? Yes, for all eight teams it is possible. From there on, admit it and put it aside because you just lose focus. The focus is performance, intensity, attitude, mentality against Sheffield and nothing else. And then first leg against Porto and second leg and be ready every second of the game because it is football and anything can happen and I am 100% sure Sheffield arrives to beat us and Porto will arrive to beat us. These are the challenges and we will see where the limit is.”
Sheffield United interim manager, Paul Heckingbottom, meanwhile, says “We need to start changing the feel of the place and get smiles on faces of players and staff after a tough few months. Everyone has a responsibility to enjoy the remaining games. That’s at the forefront of everyone’s mind, a good result and a cup semi final does the job for you.
I’m desperate to get through and get to the semi final. That’s first and foremost the game in front of us, and it can also change the outlook of the whole season. In terms of motivation and the size of the game and a carrot being dangled for you it doesn’t come any bigger. It’s a great game for us and a game to give everything in. It’s a one-off game and anything can happen on that day regardless of form and expectations of Chelsea.”
For Chelsea, Thiago Silva (thigh) may have overdone the bouncing in the stands Wednesday night because he hasn’t made it back. Mason Mount and Jorginho are available again after serving their European suspensions midweek and Andreas Christensen (illness) and Tammy Abraham (ankle) should both be back.
For Sheffield United, Jack O’Connell (knee), John Egan (toe), Jack Robinson (foot), Jack Rodwell and Sander Berge (both hamstring) are all injured, whilst Phil Jagielka may miss the game on compassionate grounds. David McGoldrick (knee) is fit to play but Ethan Ampadu, is ineligible to play against us.
CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; Hudson-Odoi, Jorginho, Kovacic, Chilwell; Pulisic; Giroud; Mount
SHEFFIELD UNITED (Possible line-up): Ramsdale; Basham, Bryan, Stevens; Baldock, Lundstram, Norwood, Fleck, Lowe; McGoldrick, Sharp
Sheffield United 1-2 Chelsea (7th February 2021)
CURRENT FORM (ALL)
SHEFFIELD UNITED: LLLWLL
- Chelsea have won four of their five FA Cup games against Sheffield United without conceding.
- Sheffield United’s last win at Stamford Bridge was in 1992.
- Sheffield United are without a win in their last 4 trips to Stamford Bridge
- Chelsea have reached the FA Cup quarter-finals for the 15th time in 21 seasons.
- Chelsea have lost just three of 14 quarter-final ties this century.
- A win would see Chelsea in the semi-finals for the fourth time in five seasons.
- Chelsea have won 19 of their last 23 FA Cup games at Stamford Bridge.
- Sheffield United last reached the semi-finals in 2014
- Sheffield United have won their past three FA Cup away games.
- Sheffield United have lost five of their past six games, conceding 13 goals and scoring just one
BBC Sport: Chelsea 2-0 Sheffield United
Sportsmole: Chelsea 2-0 Sheffield United