Having sacked manager Chris Wilder last week, Sheffield United arrive into this game with a loss of morale and hope. Their FA Cup run has been impressive, but Chelsea will arrive knowing this offers the chance of a cup double. With both sides likely to employ a three-at-the-back formation, this will be an intriguing test of just how differently these systems could play.
Given the loss of form under Wilder, it would be fair to say that Sheffield United arrive at Stamford Bridge without pressure. They are not playing like a team who could beat one of the best sides in Europe – could that help, or hinder?
Expect Chelsea to come into this one looking to play their same approach as recently. The impressive form of wings Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ben Chilwell has been a huge boon for Chelsea, allowing their wing-backs to parade forward and press aggressively. The form of Christian Pulisic has been under the microscope but expect the American to start here alongside Mason Mount in a pair of number ten positions behind striker Olivier Giroud.
In midfield, the dependable pairing of Matteo Kovacic and Jorginho helps to give Chelsea a metronomic control of midfield. The only missing players will include Thiago Silva, Tammy Abraham, and most likely Andreas Christensen.
Despite those absences, though, expect Thomas Tuchel to go for an aggressive first team selection to help ensure progression in the cup to help further winning.
Sheffield United are without a range of players, including the long-term absences of John Egan, Sander Berge, Jack Robinson, Jack O’Connell, and Jack Rodwell. All of these players have been missing for at least the medium-term, but it still deprives stand-in coach Paul Heckingbottom of some very useful depth in his squad.
Other players who will be missing include Ethan Ampadu, who cannot play against his parent club, and Phil Jagielka, who will miss out after the tragic death of his brother. Expect United to go for a different team to the 5-0 loss to Leicester City, as obvious as that might sound.
Despite being awful against the Foxes, positive noises have come out of Bramall Lane about the mood of the squad and their desire to give Blades fans something to cheer. Expect a similar 4-3-1-2 formation that allows the likes of David McGoldrick to roam, offering unpredictable attacking.
This should be an easy win for the home team. Despite being the ‘magic of the cup’, Chelsea are as locked in as any other side in the country at the moment. They look confident and in total control of the way they play the game and how they operate as a side. United, meanwhile, look almost depressed in their current position.
It would be hard to say anything other than a clear victory for the Blues here. The away side lack the invention to trouble such a quality Chelsea side, and their poor morale will mean any early concession will see heads drop.
Result: 3-0 Chelsea