Match Preview: EPL: Sunderland vs Chelsea
Venue: Stadium of Light
Referee: Mark Halsey
Kick-off: 8.25 PM (IST), Saturday, 8th of November
This will be a tale of two anxious managers struggling to impose themselves on their respective clubs. While Rafael Benitez would feel blessed to have being able to avoid the hostile reception at the Bridge, pressure will still follow him to the Wearside as he’d strive hard to get his first league win for the Blues. Sunderland, on the other hand, have rather forgotten the importance of a home league win, with the last one coming in the month of March. Martin O’ Neill would certainly try to put up a fight against the vulnerable Londoners as the pressure piles on with every passing weekend filled with nothing more than disappointment for the Black Cats.
Benitez would look to initiate his lads to a more clinical performance, while Sunderland will predictably be playing with a resolute defence that would make life difficult for the away side.
Chelsea (last five PL games LDDLD)
Chelsea, to say the least, have had a horrendous past few weeks with the off-field drama given them anything but motivation to deliver decent performances. The winless streak, even by the usual mid-season Chelsea standards has been appalling, with the league run being the worst in the Abramovich era. They lost their way again last week when a stubborn West Ham unit outplayed them in the second half to snatch an unlikely win. With the fans having their own fight with Benitez, things definitely need some improving – and only quality league football could do it for the Blues.
Sunderland (Last 5 PL games LDLWL)
Its rather unfair to put all the blame on the manager when its clear that Sunderland’s so-called-better-players like Gardner, Sessegnon and Larsson are nowhere near to what they delivered for their sides at this time around in the last season. Even after a loss at Norwich last weekend, they are still off the relegation spots, yet another one this weekend should definitely push them to the bottom three. For the umpteenth time this season, the chances of any kind of decent result would depend on the incapability of the opposition and the form of Steven Fletcher.
Sunderland’s probable starting XI: Mignolet, Bardsley, Kilgallon, Cuellar, Rose, Larsson, Gardner, Colback, Johnson, Fletcher, Sessegnon
Injured: Cattermole, Brown, O’Shea
Chelsea’s probable starting XI: Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Luiz, Cole, Romeu, Ramires, Mata, Hazard, Moses, Torres
Injured: Sturridge, Terry
- Chelsea have won 14 of their last 15 matches against Sunderland in all competitions.
- There have been under 2.5 goals scored in 6 of Sunderland’s last 7 home games in the Premier League.
- Rafael Benítez’s last match as manager at the Stadium of Light saw Sunderland beat Liverpool 1-0 via a goal that was deflected off a beach ball.
- Chelsea haven’t registered a win in their last 7 Premier League games.
It looks like Chelsea are done with their usual November implosion and this may be the game where they could actually move up a couple of gears in their performance. If Chelsea, especially Torres, could have another of those rare goal-scoring evenings in the Blue shirt, then the side should have three points to take back from the Stadium of Light. As for Sunderland, another loss could seal O’Neill’s fate as the manager, which could only be the first few signs of much needed changes at the club.