Premier League Preview: Chelsea - Sunderland



Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Luiz, Bertrand
Ramires, Mikel
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 that 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.


  • Chelsea is tied for the second-best goalscoring record in the Premier League this season with Liverpool and Arsenal with 59 goals each. Only Manchester United (70) has netted more.

  • Blues playmaker Juan Mata (pictured right), is the club’s leading scorer in all competitions so far this season with 18 goals.

  • Sunderland has only taken two points from its 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.
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