Chelsea - Sunderland Preview: Di Canio's Black Cats reign begins at Stamford Bridge
The Blues need a victory as they push for a top-four spot, while the Wearside outfit will be keen for a result as they aim to preserve their top-flight status under their new boss
By Shane Farrington
Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Luiz, Bertrand
Hazard, Oscar, Mata
Gardner, O'Shea, Bramble, Rose
Johnson, N'Diaye, Larsson, McClean
Blues boss Rafael Benitez is poised to make a host of changes from the starting XI which beat Rubin Kazan 3-1 in the Europa League on Thursday. Defensive duo Gary Cahill (knee) and Ashley Cole (hamstring) both remain sidelined.
John Obi Mikel, Eden Hazard and Oscar could all be recalled, while Demba Ba may replace Fernando Torres up front, despite the Spaniard scoring against the Russian side. Long-term injury absentee Oriol Romeu (knee) remains out injured.
As for the Black Cats, Paulo Di Canio will be without influential duo Lee Cattermole (knee) and Steven Fletcher (ankle) for the remainder of the season. Sebastian Larsson is likely to be handed a starting berth.
Upfront, Connor Wickham is pushing Danny Graham for a starting spot. However, defensive pair Wes Brown (knee) and Carlos Cuellar (ankle) are both still unavailable.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Chelsea have the joint-second best goalscoring record in the Premier League this season alongside Liverpool and Arsenal with 59 goals each. Only Manchester United (70) have netted more.
- Blues playmaker Juan Mata (pictured right), is the club’s leading scorer in all competitions so far this season with 18 goals.
The Spaniard is 9/2 with bet365 to score first in this game.
- Sunderland have only taken two points from their last six league matches - a 2-2 draw against Fulham and a 1-1 draw against Norwich.
- Paolo Di Canio was named 2012's LMA League Two Manager of the Year during his spell in charge of Swindon Town.
- Chelsea won the earlier meeting in the season between the two sides 3-1. A brace from Fernando Torres and a goal from Mata put them into a three-goal lead, before Adam Johnson scored.
- Black Cats midfielder Craig Gardner has received the joint-most yellow cards in the league so far this season alongside Liverpool’s Luis Suarez and Aston Villa’s Matthew Lowton. All three players have been booked nine times.
Top 3 Predictions
Chelsea FC 3-0 Sunderland
- 23.37 %
Chelsea FC 2-0 Sunderland
- 15.33 %
Chelsea FC 3-1 Sunderland
- 12.75 %
|English Premier League (EPL) (EPL)||05-Dec-2013||Sunderland 3 - Chelsea FC 4|
|English Premier League (EPL) (EPL)||07-Apr-2013||Chelsea FC 2 - Sunderland 1|
|English Premier League (EPL) (EPL)||08-Dec-2012||Sunderland 1 - Chelsea FC 3|
|English Premier League (EPL) (EPL)||14-Jan-2012||Chelsea FC 1 - Sunderland 0|
|English Premier League (EPL) (EPL)||10-Sep-2011||Sunderland 1 - Chelsea FC 2|
|05-Dec-2013||Sunderland 3 - Chelsea FC 4||EPL|
|01-Dec-2013||Chelsea FC 3 - Southampton 1||EPL|
|27-Nov-2013||Basel 1 - Chelsea FC 0||UCL|
|23-Nov-2013||West Ham 0 - Chelsea FC 3||EPL|
|09-Nov-2013||Chelsea FC 2 - West Bromwich 2||EPL|
|12||John Obi Mikel||Midfielder|
Times In IST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed