Will Mauricio Pochettino’s Blues get back to winning ways, or can Chris Wilder mastermind an upset? We look ahead to Saturday’s game with our Chelsea vs Sheffield United prediction and preview.

Chelsea vs Sheffield United Stats: The Quick Hits

  • Chelsea are predicted to return to form when they host Sheffield United on Matchday 17, winning 62.2% of the Opta supercomputer’s match simulations.
  • Mauricio Pochettino has won 36 of 42 Premier League games against promoted teams, the best win rate by any manager to have taken charge of at least 10 such matches (85.7%).
  • Sheffield United are the only team without an away win in the Premier League this season, also scoring the fewest goals (four) and conceding the joint most (20) on the road.

Match Preview

Having recently looked to be on the road to recovery, a run of one win in five Premier League games has Chelsea preparing to enter the festive period languishing in 12th, leading Mauricio Pochettino to declare his side are “missing something” and hint that further spending is needed. With bottom club Sheffield United visiting Stamford Bridge on Saturday, can they get back to winning ways?

Another toothless attacking performance saw Chelsea beaten 2-0 at Everton on Sunday, four days on from another demoralising defeat against fellow fallen giants Manchester United. Of the Premier League’s 17 ever-present teams in 2023, Chelsea have earned the joint-fewest points (39, excluding Everton’s deduction) and won the joint-fewest games (nine).

They still have four league games to play before they can put a torrid year behind them, and Pochettino will hope fixtures against Sheffield United, Wolves, Crystal Palace and Luton Town offer the chance for some festive cheer. We recently pointed out how it is one of the ‘easier’ run of Christmas fixture lists.

He should be confident for Saturday’s game, having won 36 of his 42 Premier League matches against promoted teams (four draws, two defeats), the best win rate by any manager to have taken charge of at least 10 such games (85.7%). However, the two defeats in that run came at home, against Cardiff City with Southampton in 2014, and against Wolves with Tottenham in 2018.

He is not the only figure at Chelsea who enjoys picking on Premier League newboys, with Raheem Sterling boasting 19 goal involvements in his last 18 matches against promoted teams (15 goals, four assists). Three of his five league goals this season have come against Luton (two) and Burnley (one).

Pochettino is yet to solve Chelsea’s attacking issues, with the inconsistent Blues following up a 3-2 win over Brighton by scoring just once from a combined 2.47 expected goals (xG) against Man Utd and Everton. With Nicolas Jackson flattering to deceive and four of Cole Palmer’s five league goals this term coming from the penalty spot, Pochettino surely cannot wait for the return of Christopher Nkunku.

The former RB Leipzig attacker is back in training after suffering a knee injury in pre-season and is reportedly close to making his first Premier League appearance. Across the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons, Nkunku managed an astonishing 81 goal contributions in 88 appearances in all competitions for Leipzig (58 goals, 23 assists), with that total only bettered by Kylian Mbappé (110), Robert Lewandowski, Erling Haaland (both 97), Karim Benzema (96) and Mohamed Salah (92).

While Roméo Lavia and Malo Gusto are also close to fitness, captain Reece James is expected to sit out two months after sustaining yet another hamstring injury against Everton. Goalkeeper Robert Sánchez joined James in being substituted at Goodison Park last weekend so Djordje Petrovic may have to deputise, while Noni Madueke and Marc Cucurella are also nursing knocks.

Sheffield United showed signs of life in their second game since Chris Wilder’s return last Saturday, beating Brentford 1-0 courtesy of a stunning strike from James McAtee. That was their first shutout victory in the Premier League since the final game of the 2020-21 campaign (1-0 versus Burnley), though they remain five points adrift of safety due to Everton’s win over Chelsea.

Sheff Utd v Brentford stats

In no small part due to Everton’s strong form, the Opta supercomputer still gives Wilder’s men just a 7.8% chance of survival, though that is up from 4.9% prior to last weekend’s fixtures.

The challenge for the Blades is to start picking up points away from Bramall Lane. They are the only team without an away win in the Premier League in 2023-24 (D1 L6), also scoring the fewest goals (four) and conceding the joint most (20, alongside West Ham) on the road.

With Chelsea likely to dominate possession, Wilder will hope the likes of McAtee, William Osula and Cameron Archer can hurt them on the break. Archer created four chances during the win over Brentford, the most by a Sheffield United player in a single Premier League game since Oliver Norwood laid on five against Crystal Palace in 2019.

Norwood joins striker Oli McBurnie in returning from suspension ahead of Saturday’s game, though Jack Robinson is banned after receiving five yellow cards and George Baldock is an injury doubt.

Chelsea vs Sheffield United Head-to-Head

Chelsea have a strong record against Sheffield United, winning five of their last seven Premier League meetings. Both exceptions came in 2019-20 as the Blades clinched a surprise top-half finish, winning 3-0 at home and earning a 2-2 away draw.

Sheffield United have not kept a clean sheet in their last 29 away league games against Chelsea, conceding a total of 64 goals in those matches since playing out a goalless draw in October 1922.

Indeed, Stamford Bridge has not been particularly welcoming for Yorkshire clubs in general, with those teams winless in their last 19 away Premier League games against Chelsea combined (four draws, 15 defeats), since Leeds United won 2-0 on the ground in December 1999.

Sheffield United were routed 4-1 on their last league trip to Stamford Bridge in November 2020, with Thiago Silva and Ben Chilwell among the Chelsea goalscorers. They returned to the ground in the FA Cup quarter-final in March 2021, losing 2-0 on that occasion.

Chelsea 2-0 Sheff Utd xG race

Recent Form

Chelsea are looking to respond to back-to-back Premier League defeats, having last lost more games consecutively between April and May – a run of four straight losses under Frank Lampard.

Pochettino, meanwhile, hasn’t lost three successive Premier League matches since December 2013, when he was with Southampton.

Sheffield United could win consecutive Premier League games for the first time since doing so in July 2020, during Wilder’s first spell in charge. The second game in that run came against Chelsea.

The Blades’ next Premier League goal will be their 200th in the competition overall. Having hit the net just 199 times in 214 games to date, they have the worst goals-per-game ratio (0.93) of any club to have participated in at least three Premier League seasons.

Chelsea vs Sheffield United Opta Player Ratings

The Opta Player Ratings are something we introduced ahead of 2023-24. For a quick primer on how they’re calculated, you can check our explainer here.

Before kick-off in this match, here are the top five performing players from both teams in the 2023-24 Premier League according to the Opta Player Ratings:


Thiago Silva: 73.4 (out of 100)
Conor Gallagher: 70.9
Raheem Sterling: 69.9
Enzo Fernández: 65.9
Nicolas Jackson: 65.5

Sheffield United

Cameron Archer: 62.4 (out of 100)
James McAtee: 51.6
Gustavo Hamer: 50.3
Wes Foderingham: 49.7
George Baldock: 48.6

These Opta Player Ratings also power our set of brand-new, free-to-play gaming experiences, which you can play on Opta Analyst all season long.

Opta Power Rankings

The Opta Power Rankings are a global team ranking system that assigns an ability score to over 13,000 domestic football teams on a scale between zero and 100, where zero is the worst-ranked team in the world and 100 is the best team in the world.

Ahead of Saturday’s kick-off, here is the Opta Power Ranking for both sides:

Chelsea vs Sheffield United Prediction

Chelsea vs Sheffield United Prediction

Despite Chelsea’s struggles, the Opta supercomputer does not foresee the Blues having too many problems against the Premier League’s bottom club on Saturday.

Of 10,000 match simulations conducted by the supercomputer ahead of kick-off, Chelsea won 62.2%. Only Manchester City (73.2% vs Crystal Palace) are given a higher win probability ahead of Matchday 17.

Sheffield United are handed just a 13.8% chance of victory, with the likelihood of a draw standing at 24%.

In the supercomputer’s overall season predictions, Chelsea are not seen as serious European contenders and finish 10th in a league-high 17.4% of scenarios. In our latest relegation predictions update, the Blues even dropped to the Championship in five of our 10,000 simulations.

Sheffield United showed signs of life against Brentford, but they finished bottom of the table in 46.6% of our projections.

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