Sunderland - Chelsea Preview: Blues continue to search for first league win under Benitez
Having picked up their first victory under their interim boss in the Champions League, the west London club travel to the Stadium of Light looking for a much-needed three points
By Chris Teale
Bardsley, Kilgallon, Cueller, Rose
Larsson, Gardner, Johnson, McClean
Ivanovic, Cahill, Luiz, Cole
Mata, Oscar, Hazard
Black Cats striker Steven Fletcher was withdrawn at half-time during their loss to Norwich last time out with an ankle knock, but should be fit to start this game.
John O’Shea’s recovery from a calf problem is going slightly slower than expected, but he may be fit to make the bench for this game.
Otherwise, Sunderland have no new concerns, with Wes Brown (knee) and Lee Cattermole (knee) remaining long-term absentees.
For the Blues, John Obi Mikel begins a three-match suspension for using threatening or abusive words against referee Mark Clattenburg after Chelsea’s game against Manchester United in October.
Stalwarts John Terry (knee) and Frank Lampard (calf) are both on the road to recovery from injuries, but this game will probably come too soon for both of them.
Daniel Sturridge’s recovery from a hamstring problem is ongoing, but he will also miss this game.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Sunderland have only won one game at home all season in the Premier League, with that victory coming against Wigan on September 29th.
- The Black Cats have only had five different goalscorers in the league this term, with Scot Steven Fletcher being the only player that scored for them other than a Demba Ba own goal until November 10th.
- Sunderland only adopted their nickname of the Black Cats in 1997 after suggestions were sent in by their fans, with the name coming from the so-called “Black Cat” gun battery stationed on the River Wear in 1805.
- Chelsea have won their last five games at the Stadium of Light, scoring 13 goals in the process. The Blues are 13/2 to beat Sunderland 2-0 with bet365.
- Last season, the Blues won both games between these sides by a margin of just one goal in each match.
- Fernando Torres (pictured, right) attempted nine shots in Chelsea’s Champions League match against FC Nordsjelland, the most he has ever attempted in a game for the Blues.
|William Hill: £25 in free bets|
|Sign up with bet365 for a 100% deposit bonus up to £200|
|Sign up to Paddy Power for £250 in free bets|
Top 3 Predictions
Sunderland 0-2 Chelsea FC
- 14.79 %
Sunderland 1-3 Chelsea FC
- 14.43 %
Sunderland 0-3 Chelsea FC
- 11.41 %
|Capital One Cup (CCUP)||17 Dec 2013||Sunderland 2 - Chelsea FC 1|
|Premier League (EPL)||4 Dec 2013||Sunderland 3 - Chelsea FC 4|
|Premier League (EPL)||7 Apr 2013||Chelsea FC 2 - Sunderland 1|
|Premier League (EPL)||8 Dec 2012||Sunderland 1 - Chelsea FC 3|
|Premier League (EPL)||14 Jan 2012||Chelsea FC 1 - Sunderland 0|
|16 Apr 2014||Manchester City 2 - Sunderland 2||EPL|
|12 Apr 2014||Sunderland 0 - Everton 1||EPL|
|7 Apr 2014||Tottenham 5 - Sunderland 1||EPL|
|31 Mar 2014||Sunderland 1 - West Ham 2||EPL|
|26 Mar 2014||Liverpool 2 - Sunderland 1||EPL|
|24||Carlos Javier Cuéllar||Defender|
With his superb set-piece delivery and great attacking abilities, Sebastian Larsson could be crucial for the home side up against Chelsea left-back Ashley Cole. The Swede has been highly impressive so far this season and will need to be on top form to win the battle down Sunderland’s right.
Juan Mata continues to impress for the Blues, and if Rafael Benitez is to pick up a first win in the Premier League , he will need his Spanish star to be firing. Mata is a key part of Chelsea’s attack, having already scored five goals and notched six assists in the league this campaign, so Sunderland's deeper midfielders must pay attention to the threat the 24-year-old poses.
It’s not been an easy start for Rafael Benitez at Chelsea, but the win over FC Nordsjaelland in the Champions League could be the boost they need. Sunderland will be a tough task at the Stadium of Light, but the away side should have more than enough to negate their threat and pick up a much-needed win.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed