Hello there, it's time once again for another thrilling installment of Fan Focus, the feature in which we find out what we can from a writer, blogger, journalist or whatever who pays more attention to our opposition than we ever could.
So in the hot-seat for us this week is Graham MacAree. Not content with managing SB Nation's Soccer section, he also covers Chelsea for the excellent "We Ain't Got No History" (who you can visit by clicking here). A life-long Chelsea fan, he's managed to fill us in on what's been a mixed season so far for Chelsea.
So without further ado we'll hand you over to Mr MacAree, and his opinions...
Hello, can you give us a short summing up of Chelsea's season so far...
Graham: It's been pretty disappointing, insofar as 4th place can be disappointing. The team isn't playing as well as it should, some key players have underperformed, and we're behind Tottenham in the league table, which I think everyone's pretty thoroughly mortified by. What's really been irksome is the way Chelsea have dropped points from winning positions - that's not something we're used to seeing, but has happened essentially all the time so far this year. It's been pretty ugly.
Have expectations from the start of the season changed at all, and if so what are they now?
Graham: Well... for me, not really. I didn't think Chelsea were as good as Manchesters City or United before the start of the season, and so I was expecting a 3rd or 4th place finish and a decent run in the Champions League. Granted, I was expecting the general results to be better, but this was not entirely surprising.
There's rampant speculation that it's going to be either AVB or the ‘senior players' such as Frank Lampard, John Terry etc who get the chop. Which would you rather, and what's the most likely outcome?
Graham: I don't think the likes of Terry and Lampard are going to be around for the next really good Chelsea team, and so I'd be alright with them leaving. Obviously, the Mourinho-era players have done a lot of fantastic things for the club, but the nostalgia surrounding them is getting to the point where it's starting to hurt the team. At some point soon, the club will have to commit to replacing them with a new generation of players. It'll hurt, but we're not the only team that'll have to move on from a beloved core.
Who, if anyone, is top of the Chelsea hit-list in January?
Graham: We know about the club's interest in Gary Cahill (that deal will probably be done by the kickoff on Saturday), but beyond that things are unclear. I'd guess Chelsea are looking for a goalscoring left winger so as to move Juan Mata into the centre, but there aren't that many of those floating around in the market, so who knows?
Have you caught any Sunderland matches of late, and what have you made of the improvement under Martin O'Neill?
Graham: I've been hollidaying for your previous few Premier League games - seems like you've done very well indeed in the games I didn't get to watch - but I caught a couple at the start of Martin O'Neill's reign. It honestly looks to me as though Sunderland are playing like they're supposed to be. Under Bruce, everything seemed to be going wrong, and now it's not. If I knew how that magic worked, maybe I'd be a Premier League manager.
Is there anyone from our side you think can give Chelsea a headache at the weekend?
Graham: The scariest Sunderland player form our perspective has to be Seb Larsson. Chelsea aren't great at defending free kicks or crosses, and... yeah. I think you know the deal there. I'm not looking forward to any set piece near our box.
What's going on with Chelsea's home form? Do you think there's any chance of repeating our 3-0 win the other year?
Graham: Could you win 3-0 at the Bridge? Well, it's unlikely, but Aston Villa beat us 3-1 so I'm not ruling anything out. As for the home form, I'm not really sure. We've had our fair share of disappointing away performances as well, so I'm inclined to say that we've just been (relatively) poor overall and slightly unluckier at Stamford Bridge than away from home.
What area of the pitch do you think Chelsea have the upperhand, and will be looking to reek the most havoc?
Graham: Realistically, Chelsea should be better than Sunderland pretty much everywhere. I don't think that's too insulting - with the crazy amount of money that gets spent on the squad they'd bloody well better be Sunderland's superiors on paper. But the match isn't paid on paper, and things seem to go wrong with this team far too often. Sometime the central midfield goes to sleep, sometimes the centrebacks, and I don't even want to talk about Fernando Torres. Our most dangerous players so far this year have been Juan Mata and Ramires (and Daniel Sturridge, but he's injured) so watch out for them I suppose.
Finally, what's your score, scorers and all that sort of prediction for the game...
Graham: One of the things this year has taught me is that Chelsea are so strange that I'm not competent to make any predictions whatsoever. So, all I'll say about this match is that it'll probably drive me to drink. A lot.
Many thanks to Graham for answering our questions, and also congratulations to him on his recent nuptial. So with that in mind, the least you can do is make http://www.weaintgotnohistory.com/ your first stop for Chelsea news an opinion, and follow along on Twitter @WAGNH_CFC