Sheffield United: Why it's the perfect time for the Blades to spring a surprise against Chelsea this weekend
"Carefree wherever we may be" begins the Stamford Bridge faithful's perennial chant, but with just one win in three matches so far this season, Frank Lampard's Chelsea aren’t quite in a state of serenity ahead of Sheffield United's visit.
A new manager, attempting to play a bolder, more creative style of football than his predecessor; a back four who've conceded seven goals in the league already - if Chris Wilder plays his cards right, the Blues could be there for the taking.
It is, of course, far from a crisis for the Chelsea, who will have been buoyed by their 3-2 win over Norwich City last weekend. But, this transitional period really is an ideal time for the Blades to take them on. United should go into the match without an overwhelming sense of trepidation, and can play with the freedom of relatively low expectations afforded to promoted sides on the road against the 'big six'.
With their regimented back-line, United have the necessary organisation to frustrate the 2018/19 Europa League winners in the early stages of the game, before picking their moment to stun their opponents with a counter-attack - a tactic which has comprehensively floored Lampard's side on more than one occasion so far this season.
Stamford Bridge, a fortress under Jose Mourinho who went an astonishing 77 matches without a home defeat, no longer possesses its former fear factor - a statement which can be evidenced by the Blues' harrowing 3-0 loss to Bournemouth under Antonio Conte in 2018, and the 15 points they dropped in their own back yard last season during Maurizio Sarri's short-lived reign.
Of course, there's much reason for Chelsea to be optimistic this season. While a title challenge may not be on the horizon, the club's ongoing transfer ban could prove to be a blessing in disguise, as their wealth of academy talent - in the shape of Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount, among others - look capable of excelling in the absence of mega-money new signings.
It would also be absurd to suggest Chelsea aren't going to be a force to be reckoned with on Saturday - the club boast a unit of highly experienced, world class players across the field, with an expertly honed, invaluable winning mentality; this can't be underestimated.
The team have looked a potent attacking threat throughout the early stages of the campaign, and you can bet your bottom dollar that Lampard is working relentlessly to solidify his leaky defence – a task which will be considerably aided by German powerhouse Antonio Rudiger's imminent return to fitness.It can't be denied, however, that their soft underbelly is still there to be exploited. Chelsea will be more than aware of the dangers their opposition possess, but the Blades certainly could spring a surprise against a side still looking to establish their identity in the early stages of Lampard’s tenure.
If the Blades manage to remain disciplined, dig deep and survive the inevitable early barrage from the hosts, they just might be able to pull off a result to send shock waves through the Premier League elite this weekend.