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EPL: 3 Important Decisions Mauricio Pochettino must make ahead of Chelsea vs Sheffield United Clash

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EPL: 3 Important Decisions Mauricio Pochettino must make ahead of Chelsea vs Sheffield United Clash
Feature Image: Getty

Chelsea is looking for the real turning point in a season full of false dawns when they meet bottom-three Sheffield United at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

The Blues have lost three of four matches since a win at Tottenham. Now Mauricio Pochettino is staring down consecutive losses to bottom-half teams should they fail to handle the Blades.

The pressure is increasing on Mauricio Pochettino as Chelsea manager. The Blues are currently sat 12th in the Premier League table – a worst position at this stage of the season compared to last term.

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Following back-to-back defeats against Manchester United and Everton there have been calls for Pochettino to be replaced at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues have not been helped by injuries to key players so far this season with club captain Reece James once again set to be sidelined for a significant period. The England international had to be withdrawn with a hamstring injury against Everton last weekend and is set to miss ‘a few months’ – despite no timescale being put on his recovery.

Christopher Nkunku and Romeo Lavia are yet to make a competitive appearance for the west Londoners after joining the club in the summer transfer window. Fans are eagerly anticipating Nkunku’s debut for the Blues after he impressed during pre-season and has now recovered from a serious knee injury.

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The Frenchman is rumoured to be involved in the matchday squad to face Sheffield United this weekend after featuring in first-team training over the past two weeks.

Chelsea have been cautious with Nkunku’s recovery and rehabilitation, but it’s now time for him to be brought back into the team and show his ability by helping the club secure some positive results.

The 26-year-old’s quality is unquestionable and he will have a significantly positive impact on Chelsea’s attacking output – backed up by his record for RB Leipzig. Pochettino simply has to get the France international involved in the starting XI this weekend in an effort to get Chelsea back on track and ease the pressure on his position as manager.

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The Chelsea boss must also bring Thiago Silva back into the defence after the poor performance against Everton at Goodison Park. The Blues lacked maturity and organisation at the back against the Toffees and were punished without the veteran defender leading from defence.

Given his age, Silva had to be rested at some point – but the game against Everton was the wrong time to do so. With James now sidelined through injury, Malo Gusto is the clear choice to replace him at right-back.

Axel Disasi and Marc Cucurella have both played at right-back at times this season, but Gusto is the only player capable of replicating James’ performance in that position in terms of effectiveness in attack. Chris Wilder’s side remain locked in a relegation battle and will be difficult to break down, meaning Gusto’s involvement could be key in overloading the opposition and helping Chelsea pick up all three points at Stamford Bridge.

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It is a must-win game for Pochettino and his players this weekend. Nkunku, Silva and Gusto simply have to be involved if Chelsea are to start showing signs of improvements in the wake of James’ injury and recent results.

Chelsea v Sheffield United: Pick of the stats

Sheffield United are the only team without an away win in the Premier League so far this season. The Blades have also scored fewer (four) and conceded the joint-most (20) away goals in the top flight this term.

Yorkshire teams are winless in their past 19 Premier League away games against Chelsea, since Leeds United’s 2-0 victory in December 1999.

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Raheem Sterling has been involved in 19 goals in his past 18 Premier League appearances against promoted sides, scoring 15 and assisting four. Three of his five league goals this season have come against such clubs (two against Luton and one against Burnley).

Sheffield United’s next goal will be their 200th in the Premier League. With 199 goals in 214 games so far, their goal-per-game ratio of 0.93 is the lowest of all teams to have played in at least three campaigns in the competition.

Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino has won 36 of his 42 Premier League games against promoted sides, the best win rate by any manager to have taken charge of at least 10 such games (85.7%).

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