Sheffield United moved within five points of the Champions League qualification places after a comprehensive 3-0 win over Chelsea at Bramall Lane.
The Blades drew first blood in south Yorkshire through David McGoldrick – scoring his first Premier League goal – after the Irishman fired home from close range after Kepa Arrizabalaga did well to palm away Oli McBurnie’s deflected initial effort.
McBurnie doubled the lead after half an hour from Enda Stevens’ cross, powering his header into the bottom corner. Chelsea tried to claw themselves back into the game, with César Azpilicueta’s effort flashing wide of the post, but the visitors were unable to reproduce the attacking fluency they have shown in recent weeks.
The Blades would wrap up a comfortable win with just over fifteen minutes to go, as McGoldrick pounced on an error from Antonio Rüdiger to slot past a helpless Kepa.
Here’s 90min‘s breakdown of the game.
Key Talking Point
After a valuable smash-and-grab win over Wolves, Sheffield United were looking to make it four home league wins on the bounce. They came out of the blocks hungry and energetic, and a stroke of luck and some alert play from McGoldrick helped them take the lead.
It was no less than the Blades deserved, as they tactically outclassed the Blues from the off – adding a smooth second before the break. With a two-goal cushion, the home side allowed the visitors plenty of possession and ensured they remained tight at the back, demonstrating the grit and determination that Chris Wilder has instilled throughout the season.
McGoldrick’s second goal to wrap things up sealed a deserved win and, in truth, the scoreline didn’t flatter the hosts. They were superior tactically and clinical in front of goal, again showing that their league position is no fluke.
If the Blades carry on in this manner, there is no reason why they can’t secure at least a Europa League qualification spot – though they’ll still be dreaming of the big time for now.
Starting XI: Henderson (6); Basham (7), Egan (7), O’Connell (6); Baldock (6), Berge (6), Norwood (7), Osborn (6), Stevens (7); McGoldrick (8*), McBurnie (7).
Substitutes: Mousset (6), Lundstram (6), Jagielka (6).
There must have been a time when David McGoldrick thought a Premier League goal was never going to come his way.
He’d had 42 efforts at goal without success this season, but his attitude, application and work rate has seen Wilder stand by him through thick and thin. Finally, lady luck went his way with not one goal, but two – and McGoldrick’s performance on the night warranted a moment in the limelight.
Cool and composed in front of goal, it was a wonderful showing from a striker who has never once let his head drop.
Key Talking Point
Chelsea were looking for a third straight win – and their sixth since the restart – but they never really got going. With N’Golo Kanté and Billy Gilmour out injured, Jorginho earned his first start in midfield since February – but he was on the back foot from the first whistle.
The Blues had the ball, yes, but they lacked the urgency, decisiveness and fluidity that they’ve shown in recent weeks, also looking tentative at the back again. Kurt Zouma and Andreas Christensen were both dozing for the host’s opening goal, forcing Lampard to change system at half-time.
Sadly for the visitors, it didn’t really work. Tammy Abraham looked bright at times, but Chelsea were comfortably outclassed by a team high on confidence. Question marks must surely be asked of a defence that has now conceded eight goals in their last three away games.
Starting XI: Arrizabalaga (5); James (6), Christensen (5), Zouma (5), Azpilicueta (6); Barkley (6), Jorginho (6), Mount (7*); Willian (5), Abraham (5), Pulisic (6).
Substitutes: Rüdiger (5), Alonso (6), Giroud (6), Hudson-Odoi (5), Loftus-Cheek (5).
Few players impressed on the night, but Mason Mount’s performance in midfield offered some promise. Constantly picking up pockets of space, the England international looked the one bright spark capable of unlocking the door if given time on the ball.
Unfortunately for Mount, and his Chelsea teammates, Sheffield United were often quick to close him down, but that doesn’t detract from a generally solid display.
Sheffield United have a big game up next, when they travel to King Power Stadium to play Leicester. The Blades then return to home soil on 20 July, with Everton the visitors at Bramall Lane.
Chelsea, meanwhile, face already relegated Norwich at Stamford Bridge, before they head off to Wembley for an FA Cup semi-final clash with Manchester United.
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