Chelsea predicted line-up vs. Sheffield United: four changes made as £48m man returns amid injury crisis

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The latest Chelsea team news, injury updates and predicted XI as Mauricio Pochettino's side prepare to face Sheffield United in the Premier League.

In a season so far plagued by injury woes and ghastly results, Chelsea now face a trickier task than they were initially expecting this weekend as they take on a resurgent Sheffield United side riding the new-manager bounce. The Blues head into the game in dire form, still reeling from last weekend's 2-0 loss away to Everton - their third defeat in five matches. Their opponents, now with fan favourite Chris Wilder back at the helm, are still rock bottom of the table, but secured a morale boosting win over Brentford in their last match.

Mauricio Pochettino's side have played with kind of bewildered incompetence you might expect from a side hastily (and expensively) cobbled together in one frantic summer, and are consequently languishing twelfth in table, with the pre-season hopes of a top four finish becoming more unlikely by the day. But it's not all doom and gloom! Well, it mostly is, but there are some fine threads of hope to cling onto. For example, the Blues haven't lost at home to the Blades in over 30 years... so there's that.

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Ahead of a must-win game for Chelsea, we've rounded up the latest team news, injury updates and had a crack at predicting their starting XI:

Chelsea injury news:

Chelsea could be without their number one, Roberto Sanchez, to face the Blades, with the Spanish stopper facing a race against time to recover from a knee injury picked up in the Blues' recent loss to Manchester United. The injury got even worse and forced him to be substituted off in the aforementioned defeat to the Toffees.

Defensively, the Blues are dropping like flies, with a host of names set to miss out on Saturday. The game could come too soon for right-back Malo Gusto, as he recovers from a knee injury, while club captain Reece James is set for another frustrating spell on the sidelines after suffering a fresh hamstring injury. Elsewhere, Marc Cucurella is a doubt due to an ankle injury, while Ben Chillwell, Wesley Fofana and Trevoh Chalobah are all still some way off returning from their respective absences with injury.

The midfield is a somewhat brighter picture for Pochettino, with only three absences expected - Lesley Ugochukwu, who has a muscular complaint; Carney Chukwuemeka, who is still striving to recover from a knee injury suffered back in August, and summer signing Romeo Lavia, who is still looking to build up fitness as he comes back from an ankle injury. Up front, Christopher Nkunku's lengthy wait to make his competitive debut could be over, with his manager confirming he'll make the matchday squad for the first time this season. The ex-RB Leipzig forward did severe damage to his knee in pre-season, after turning awkwardly on a dire Chicago pitch as his side took on Borussia Dortmund in a friendly.

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Chelsea team news and predicted XI:

It could be a first start for Serbian goalkeeper Dorde Petrovic, who is likely to come in for Sanchez - should the first choice option fail to recover in time. Petrovic, 24, was one of the Blues' many fresh recruits last summer, joining from MLS side New England Revolution.

Critics of Pochettino have suggested his unwillingness to stick with the same back four hasn't helped the mammoth task he faces in gelling together an entirely new squad in a short space of time, and he could again produce some surprises this weekend. With Chilwell out and Cucurella doubtful, Levi Colwill could step in at left full-back on this occasion. Given the lack of options elsewhere, Axel Disasi may be required to fill in at right-back, with Benoit Badiashile and veteran Thiago Silva most likely to partner up in the heart of defence.

The area of midfield has been somewhere a little easier to predict this season - the relentless Conor Gallagher is likely to feature in a trio alongside Moises Caicedo and World Cup winner Enzo Fernandez. Up top, Nicolas Jackson looks set to lead the line again, but there are significant rumblings around Stamford Bridge suggesting the Blues will go all out to sign a more threatening striker in the January transfer window. He's set to be supported by the lively duo of Raheem Sterling and stand-out summer signing Cole Palmer.

Chelsea predicted XI: Petrovic; Disasi, Badiashile, Silva, Colwill; Gallagher, Caicedo, Fernandez; Sterling, Jackson, Palmer.

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