Chelsea vs. Sheffield United: Three things to look for across the pitch

READING, ENGLAND - JULY 28: Head Coach Frank Lampard Jnr talsk to Tammy Abraham of Chelsea during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Reading and Chelsea at Madejski Stadium on July 28, 2019 in Reading, England. (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
READING, ENGLAND - JULY 28: Head Coach Frank Lampard Jnr talsk to Tammy Abraham of Chelsea during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Reading and Chelsea at Madejski Stadium on July 28, 2019 in Reading, England. (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images) /

Chelsea host Sheffield United for the first time since 2007. Here are three things to look for as the Blues look to take some momentum into the international break.

Goals from Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount gave Chelsea their first competitive win of the season. Obviously, a 3-2 win against a newly-promoted team is the kind of win that shows how fortunate you are, rather than how good. Chelsea could not keep balls out of their own net, and have not been able to for many games now, including preseason.

The problem with scoring three goals and conceding two is that goals scored are more difficult to control than goals conceded. If you’re conceding a lot of goals while scoring even more, there’ll be games where you’ll concede just as many goals and not score as much, or at all. There are several parts of Chelsea’s play that need work, but here are a few things to check for when Chelsea welcome Sheffield United at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

1. Defensive organization when transitioning to defense

In pre-season, Chelsea scored four against Reading but conceded three. Seeing as Chelsea is not renowned for banging in a high number of goals per game, it should have been a source of worry that the team was letting in so many goals.

It was no surprise when Manchester United wiped Chelsea all over Old Trafford, putting four past a helpless Kepa Arrizabalaga. 4-0.

Chelsea’s openness in the defensive transition followed them (obviously) up until their first competitive win.

Frank Lampard’s results have been getting better, however, he is yet to solve the defensive openness problem. The 4-3-3 midfield rotation Chelsea used against Liverpool in Istanbul worked well, maybe because N’Golo Kante was in the mix. Surprisingly, Lampard has not tried it since then.

Sheffield United should not be giving the Blues problems but, judging by recent games – all games, really – this season, they will. The last game before the break will show if Lampard has learnt from past games or if Chelsea will be cut open by John Lundstram.

2. Try to find the real Jorginho, fairly

The most spectacular thing about ChelsTwit is that perspective and balance is almost foreign. ChelsTwit spent the week bursting with hot takes about Jorginho’s captaincy material, mistaking his pointing and shouting for leadership. My head hurts.

Just as we were still trying to stabilize the overexcited Jorginho stans, they start talking about him wearing the armband because Lampard complemented him publicly.

That is the state of Chelsea Twitter right now. Don’t go there.

On a more serious – and reasonable – note, watch Jorginho against Sheffield United, if you can. See how he does with the ball, and especially without it. As is often the case, both parties will have to compromise to meet reality.

No, Jorginho is not the worst midfielder to wear a Chelsea shirt, and no, Jorginho is not Xavi’s mentor and the next Pirlo. Jorginho is OK. He is not s**t, and he is not world class.

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Watch for how Jorginho does when he tries to defend. Do the eye test. If Jorginho has been playing as good as some people say, the opinions on him would not be so divided. Case in point: N’Golo Kante. Nobody would argue that Kante is Chelsea’s best player and perhaps the best at what he does in the league, if not the world.

Jorginho can become a crucial part of Chelsea’s midfield, but he has a long way to go.

3. Sharpness of Chelsea’s attack

Chelsea has been creating chances. Before the Norwich game, Chelsea created the second-most chances behind Manchester City in the Premier League.

Tammy Abraham executed some exquisite finishing in the Norwich game. He excellently repaid the faith Frank Lampard showed in him.

However, a brace in one game is not enough to make him Chelsea’s first choice. He’s going to have to continue that form to stay in the side. If he keeps that up, Chelsea might not need to dip into the transfer market for Lyon’s Moussa Dembele next summer. Abraham, along with the other strikers, will need to make a strong case, though.

Christian Pulisic, Mason Mount, Pedro, Abraham and Olivier Giroud have all been putting in shifts in trying to create goals. That much is visible. However, while it is true that if you don’t concede, you can’t lose, it is just as true that goals win games.

Chelsea need to start scoring goals – not just from the strikers but from all the Chelsea front men.

The Norwich game was tough, which was understandable as it was an away game. The Sheffield United game is going to be at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea need to make a statement. They need to be clinical. The Chelsea attackers, whether they agree or not, are the face of Chelsea.

Chelsea can only go as far as their attackers take them. They have to buckle up. Watch as the front men fight for their place in the starting XI, then decide for yourselves who belongs there.

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The team is showing signs of improvement, and that is encouraging. The players are gaining confidence and they will need it at peak level in order to not crumble later in the season when they start getting overwhelmed with much more difficult and frequent games.

Chelsea sit in 13th place in the table and, while that is unlike them, it is only 3 games gone. Their midfield exposes the defenders and, subsequently, the goalkeeper, to free attacks and in some cases abuse from the fans. Mateo Kovacic played very well in the game against Norwich City. His run and assist for Tammy Abraham’s third goal was especially delicious.

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Chelsea should keep focusing on getting the three points. Take it game by game. Most importantly, learn from mistakes