The Star’s United writer James Shield analyses the form book surrounding this weekend’s fixture and identifies some of the major characters set to be involved.
The Possible Teams: Sheffield United - Henderson, Basham, Egan, O’Connell, Stevens, Baldock, Norwood, Osborn, Berge, McGoldrick, Sharp. Chelsea - Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Zouma, James, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek, Barkley, Willian, Pulisic, Giroud.
The Referee: Andre Marriner, who is based in the West Midlands, will take charge of the match with Darren Cann and Richard West acting as his assistants. Lee Mason is the fourth official while Andy Madley is scheduled to oversee VAR duties at Stockley Park. Marriner averaged 2.73 cautions per game during his first 23 appointments of the season, issuing a red card every 11.5 outings - although the last of those came in November. Marriner has taken charge of United twice since August, booking Oli McBurnie and John Lundstram during their goalless draw at Watford in October and Lundstram again when Manchester United drew 3-3 at Bramall Lane a month later.
The Form Guide: Sheffield United are unbeaten in three, winning two of those matches including Wednesday's triumph over Wolves. Chelsea have won five of their six outings since the fixture schedule restarted, beating Aston Villa, Manchester City, Leicester City, Watford and Crystal Palace, with their only defeat coming at West Ham.
The Last Time Out: Tammy Abraham scored twice as Chelsea raced into a 2-0 lead at Stamford Bridge in August, before Callum Robinson, now on loan at West Bromwich Albion reduced the deficit. Then, with only a minute of normal time remaining, a Kurt Zouma own goal ensured Chris Wilder’s newly promoted side secured the point their performance after the break warranted. Although the effort was awarded to the Frenchman, Lys Mousset appeared to get the final touch.
The Previous Meetings: United and Chelsea have faced each other 81 times, with tomorrow’s visitors winning 47 percent of those games. Thirty-two per cent of those fixtures have ended in a draw, with the most recent coming when United travelled to Stamford Bridge earlier this term. The last time United beat Chelsea was in November 1993, at Bramall Lane. That was also the most recent clean sheet United have kept against them. Eighteen of United’s 27 victories over the Londoners have come on home soil. The first ever match between these two clubs came in 1907 when, two years after Chelsea were founded, United triumphed 4-2 at Stamford Bridge.
The Dangermen: Christian Pulisic and Willian have been Chelsea’s most consistent performers since competition resumed following the Covid-19 pandemic last month, with the latter being named man-of-the-match when they beat Palace 3-2 at Selhurst Park earlier this week. Willian has scored four times in his last five outings, while Pulisic has netted three times in his last six. Olivier Giroud has netted on three occasions in his most recent five appearances.
The Coverage: Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Premier League. (Kick-off 5.30pm).