Chelsea head into the final international break of the year on a high following an impressive victory at Stamford Bridge that extends our unbeaten run to eight games in all competitions.
The Blues had to come from behind after conceding our first goal in six, David McGoldrick cleverly flicking Sheffield United in front. The Blades had started the better but once Tammy Abraham equalised midway through the first half, we never looked back.
Hakim Ziyech crossed for Ben Chilwell to bundle us in front shortly after the half-hour, and Chelsea were relentless thereafter, with the former Ajax man’s deliveries remaining a major problem for the visitors throughout.
They could do nothing to prevent another finding the head of Thiago Silva, who capped a commanding performance with a maiden Chelsea goal, glanced in off his head with 15 minutes remaining.
Timo Werner rounded off an excellent evening’s work with an emphatic finish. Sheffield United may be bottom but they have lost narrowly to Liverpool, Arsenal and Man City already this season. The Blues faced no such problems blowing them away, and can head into our next game at Newcastle in a fortnight full of confidence.
Frank Lampard made a solitary change to the side that started the midweek victory over Rennes, with Mateo Kovacic replacing Jorginho in midfield. Thiago Silva captained in Cesar Azpilicueta and Jorginho’s absence.
Before kick-off, both sides honoured those who have lost their lives in conflict across the world with a minute's silence prior to kick-off, including a perfect rendition of the Last Post.
It was the visitors who were quickest out of the blocks when play got underway, Kovacic required to make a crucial interception inside a minute after the overlapping Chris Basham had weaved into the box. With our first attack, a low Reece James delivery reached Chilwell who fired at Aaron Ramsdale from a narrow angle.
The Blades’ wing-backs caused us problems in both games last season, and George Baldock down their right was proving a nuisance again. He latched on to a raking John Egan pass and only a Chilwell block prevented Edouard Mendy being called into action for the first time.
But there was nothing the keeper could do when a well-worked short corner ended with Baldock cutting back to Sander Berge, whose effort was instinctively flicked past Mendy by McGoldrick with nine minutes played.
Abraham weaved into the box and shot too close to Ramsdale in response, but it would be our number nine who got us back on terms midway through the first half.
Chelsea had struggled to find space behind and beside the Blades backline until Kovacic burst from midfield and played an intelligent backwards pass into the area. Abraham had pulled off his man and although his connection wasn’t the cleanest, it had the bounce and pace to skip into the far corner.
The Blues took control of the contest. Kovacic did excellently to win a free-kick on the right-hand channel, from which Ziyech’s dangerous inswinger was palmed by Ramsdale only as far as Werner, who rattled the underside of the bar from a narrow angle.
Another set-piece did lead to our second goal on 34 minutes. This time it was our turn to work a corner short, with Ziyech the recipient. Another delicious cross had Ramsdale worried, and Chilwell’s far-post gamble paid off as the ball skidded into his thigh and snuck into the net. He didn’t know much about it, but it got the job done!
As Chelsea sought to press home our advantage, Chilwell nearly doubled his tally with a more conventional effort. Again it was a Ziyech cross causing problems, direct from a corner on this occasion, and our left-back helped keep it alive before the ball fell back to him. His volley was trickling into the corner until Ramsdale got down to turn it wide.
In the closing stages of the half Mendy saw a bit more action, but we had certainly merited the turnaround after a slow start, the pressing and movement in the final third especially impressive.
We had a great chance to extend our lead soon after the restart, as Enda Stephens’ backward header released Kovacic, who bore down on goal and opted to try and square to Werner. A superb sliding block from Basham prevented a tap-in for the German.
Chelsea continued to dominate. A threatening Ziyech effort was deflected over, and from the resulting corner Abraham was twice tackled just as he looked set to score.
James, who once again put in a superb performance, showed his worth at both ends by racing back to make an interception as Sheffield United broke, and stinging Ramsdale’s palms with a dipping free-kick from range. Kovacic was then narrowly off-target with a daisy-cutter.
It was his last meaningful involvement as he pulled up with 20 minutes left. Jorginho came on.
Finishing with a flourish
The game was still in the balance heading into the final quarter-hour, so Thiago Silva’s first Chelsea goal was a very welcome one. Again it was an inswinging Ziyech delivery that befuddled the Blades, and there was the Brazilian to glance in at the near post.
Ziyech should have had his third assist of the game a minute later, a deeper, more central pass releasing Werner. His lob beat Ramsdale but bounced wide.
However, Werner wouldn’t have to wait long to add his name to the scoresheet. This time a ricochet in midfield set him clear, and he made no mistake with an emphatic finish high past the beleaguered Blades keeper.
The final few minutes were comfortable and indeed it was Ramsdale who prevented us adding stoppage-time gloss, tipping a swerving Mount effort over. Our second home league win of the season moves us up to third for now.
There were countless impressive Chelsea performances, not least Kovacic on his return to the side, but Ziyech stood out. The Moroccan was a menace all game and his passing, crossing and control of the ball elevated our efforts in the final third. Sheffield United had looked solid but once Ziyech waved his wand, they had no answer. It was the short of showing that will scare defences up and down the land.
The players will head off on international duty now. When they return, it's the longest domestic away trip of the campaign as we head to Newcastle.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Mendy; James, Zouma, Thiago Silva, Chilwell; Kovacic (Jorginho 71), Kante, Mount; Ziyech, Abraham, Werner (Giroud 87).
Unused subs Caballero, Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Emerson, Hudson-Odoi.
Scorers Abraham 23, Chilwell 34, Thiago Silva 76, Werner 80
Sheffield United (5-3-2): Ramsdale; Baldock, Basham, Egan (c), Stevens, Lowe; Berge, Norwood (Osborn 62), Lundstram; McGoldrick, Brewster (McBurnie 63).
Unused subs Verrips, Jagielka, Robinson, Burke, Sharp.
Scorer McGoldrick 9
Booked Egan 37, Berge 75
Referee Jon Moss