Chelsea got back to winning ways with a routine 2-0 home win over bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United to ease the pressure on manager Mauricio Pochettino.
Despite being largely frustrated in the first half by the visitors, Chelsea struck twice in quick succession just after the interval through Cole Palmer (54) and then Nicolas Jackson (61) to dispel memories of losses at Everton and Man Utd in their previous two Premier League games.
As a result, Chelsea have moved up to 11th place in the table, while despite a spirited display, Chris Wilder’s side remain last.
Chelsea were looking to maintain their recent good home form against a Blades team boosted by victory over Brentford last time out, just their second win of their league campaign, and the visitors took that confidence with them into the match as they largely frustrated their much-changed hosts before half-time.
In fact, so dire was the first 45 minutes from the hosts that the Blues failed to register a first-half shot inside the box in a home game for the first time since 2010, when records began, as Wilder’s game plan worked to perfection.
The Blades even went close to scoring a spectacular opener, only for Cameron Archer’s curling effort to be deflected just wide of the far post, with Chelsea debutant Djordje Petrovic at full stretch.
However, whatever Pochettino said to his players at the break worked as Chelsea came out firing, scoring twice in the first 15 minutes of the second period to end the visitors’ resistance.
The crucial breakthrough came as Palmer fed Raheem Sterling in the box and the forward drove to the byline, before his fiercely struck cross was diverted home by the former for his sixth goal in just his last nine games.
After a brief Video Assistant Referee check for offside, the goal stood and seven minutes later the hosts doubled their lead in scruffy fashion as Sterling was felled in the box, but as everyone stood still waiting for a possible penalty, Palmer reacted quickest to centre for Jackson to side foot home from virtually on the line.
Chelsea’s season could potentially be on the line on Tuesday as they face Newcastle in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup before they head to Wolves on the sunning afternoon of Christmas Eve
Sheffield United next game is in the EPL when they travel to Aston Villa on Friday 22 December