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Sunderland-Chelsea Preview

AP - Sports

Chelsea are chasing an English Premier League and UEFA Champions League double and face four crucial matches within the space of 11 days, starting with Saturday's home match against Sunderland.

The Blues (23-6-5) are second in the Premier League, two points behind leaders Liverpool, whom they play at Anfield on April 27 in a match which could decide the title. Jose Mourinho's side also have home and away matches against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League semifinals scheduled for April 22 and 30.

Goalkeeper Petr Cech insists he is relishing the challenge of Chelsea's hectic run of fixtures and is especially looking forward to the matches against Liverpool and current Spanish league leaders Atletico.

"Anything is possible. It's very tough to play three huge games in a row but that's why we are a top club," Cech told chelseafc.com. "And as a player that's why you come to a top club - to have this opportunity to play in huge games. We are happy with the situation.

"There are four more games in the league so we need to make sure we are ready for everyone. We have huge games in the Champions League too so there's a little bit of congestion but it's always great to be in a position like we are where you are playing for everything. This is why it's so exciting."

The Blues won 1-0 at Swansea last weekend, with Demba Ba scoring the only goal of the match after 68 minutes.

Fellow title rivals Manchester City's challenge has faltered after dropping seven points in their last four matches, which means Chelsea would be certain of becoming Premier League champions for the first time since 2009-10 if they win all four of their remaining domestic fixtures - including that all-important encounter at Anfield.

Sunderland (6-8-19) are bottom of the table and six points from safety, although they do have a game in hand over the three clubs immediately above them - Cardiff City, Fulham and Norwich City. The Black Cats are without a win in nine league matches, with two draws and seven defeats in that spell.

Gus Poyet's side came desperately close to ending their winless streak before they conceded a late goal to draw 2-2 at a faltering Manchester City on Wednesday night.

Fernandinho gave City an early lead before Connor Wickham scored twice in quick succession for Sunderland after the break. However, with just two minutes left on the clock, Black Cats goalkeeper Vito Mannone fumbled Samir Nasri's fierce strike and the ball trickled into the net to deprive the Wearsiders of a famous victory.

Sunderland defender Wes Brown was disappointed to surrender two valuable points against City but also keen to take the positives from a battling performance at the Etihad Stadium.

"Of course we'd have taken a point before the game," Brown told safc.com. "But it's so disappointing to concede a last minute goal after doing so well to come back from 1-0 down.

"There's still a chance we can do what we need to do and that's what we've got to keep hoping and striving for. The result against City can give us the confidence to go out and turn in more performances to achieve that."

The Blues won 4-3 at Sunderland in this season's reverse league fixture on Dec. 4 before the Black Cats bounced back with a 2-1 win over the Londoners in a League Cup match at the Stadium of Light 13 days later.

Chelsea are undefeated in their last 26 home matches in the Premier League and have kept clean sheets in the last six.

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