Fresh off advancement in the Champions League, Chelsea must turn there attention to their other possible piece of silverware this season. Sheffield United is a wounded animal having sacked long time manager Chris Wilder recently and facing all but certain relegation. Still, as Thomas Tuchel notes, they are in the FA Cup quarterfinals and will want to make that a semifinal.
Chelsea will be without Thiago Silva again. Like before the Champions League match midweek, Tuchel noted that there was little reason to risk him before the international break. It may be distressing that he has been out for a while but it is better to have him back fully fit than not.
Tammy Abraham will be the big question mark. He has returned to training but had a “scary moment” that will require monitoring before the match Sunday. He will be on the fence for the match which probably means at most he will make the bench.
No questions were asked about Andreas Christensen’s illness that kept him out of the Atletico Madrid match. Illness can be tricky depending on what it is so it might be best for Chelsea to err on the side of caution with it.
One thing that is probably certain is rotation. Even with two solid opponents back to back, Tuchel has rotated at least a few players. He is yet to name the same line up back to back and is averaging three to four changes per match. Sheffield United may be a Premier League team, but that won’t be the case for much longer. They will want to save some face with a FA Cup run, but they simply do not look to have much in any of their tanks.
That could give Tuchel a chance to use some players that have been on the fringe since his arrival. Olivier Giroud can probably look forward to a start with Abraham being on the fence injury wise. Christian Pulisic can probably also count on a start as he looks to find any sort of form this season.
Mason Mount is likely to return after missing the Champions League through suspension. Jorginho might fall into that category too but that depends on if Tuchel wants to (finally) give Billy Gilmour a chance. The young Scotsman could play with Jorginho but their skillsets would be somewhat redundant with one another.
Emerson and Ben Chilwell can also look forward to starting, perhaps even together given last time Tuchel used Emerson as the left centerback. Kurt Zouma might start regardless which leaves the last spot down to Antonio Rudiger or Christensen if he has recovered from his illness. Of course, Tuchel could also go the full experimental route and put Reece James in Cesar Azpilicueta’s position with one of Pulisic or Callum Hudson-Odoi at wingback.
In goal, it is probably a safe bet to see Kepa Arrizabalaga start. He has been solid in recent outings and, if that continues, he can be trusted as the cup keeper for now. Ahead of him, it shouldn’t be expected to see anything but the normal 3-4-2-1/3-4-1-2 Chelsea has used in every match since Tuchel arrived.
More than anything, Chelsea will want to advance but it will also be good to see some fresh legs and faces in the XI. Given where Sheffield United is as a club right now, the only team that should make this match hard for Chelsea is Chelsea themselves.