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Preview: Poyet Hoping To Leave Chelsea Blue

Gus Poyet goes up against a former side of his as Chelsea come to town, with points vital to both teams for very different reasons. Here's everything you need ahead of tonight's game.

Michael Regan

Sunderland Team News

Gus Poyet once again just about has a full compliment of players to choose from, as John O'Shea should be able to play tonight having picked up an injury late against Aston Villa.

There could however still be changes. It's not foreseen that there'll be much doing at the back where Phil Bardsley, John O'Shea and Wes Brown have formed a decent partnership, while Andrea Dossena bounced back from suspension with a decent outing at the Villa on Saturday. However should O'Shea be unable to go, Valentin Roberge will likely come in as a line-for-like replacement.

We'd expect that Craig Gardner will be replaced having been poor against his former side with Jack Colback likely to retake his position.

It remains a toss-up as to whether Fabio Borini or Adam Johnson will take a wide berth, but we think the Italian did just about enough to warrant a start again tonight.

Steven Fletcher will continue to lead the line alone, with support from Emanuele Giaccherini.

Chelsea Team News

Jose Mourinho does like to mix and match his sides, and with two games in a week you think he'll shuffle the pack.

Petr Cech will remain in goal, while Ashley Cole will likely replace Cesar Azpilicueta at left-back. That would form a defence of the aforementioned Cole, John Terry, Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic.

There's not much chance of Michael Essien being up for two games in a week, so expect Frank Lampard or John Obi Mikel to replace him. Also look for starts for Andre Schurrle and Willian.

We do expect though Fernando Torres will keep his place, with his pace expected to cause more bother for our defence than Demba Ba or an aging Samuel Eto'o could offer.

Predicted Lineups

Sunderland vs Chelsea - Football tactics and formations

Sunderland: Mannone, Bardsley, O'Shea, Brown, Dossena, Ki, Colback, Larsson, Borini, Giaccherini, Fletcher

Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Cole, Lampard, Ramires, Willian, Schurrle, Mata, Torres

Key Matchup: Andrea Dossena Vs Anyone

This could be quite a terrifying matchup really. We've popped in Willian which is frghtening enough, but should it be Juan Mata, Oscar, Eden Hazard or Andre Shurrle lining up out wide it would still represent a fearsome opponent for the Italian, who's pace is long, long gone. Even an unlikely recall for Kevin De Bruyne would be potentially horrendous.

With whomever is in midfield ahead of Dossena likely to have their hands full trying to stop Branislav Ivanovic too, the left hand side will be very important indeed for us... and need all the luck they can get.

Recent Form: LWDWLW

Newcastle United 2-0 Chelsea (Gouffran 68, Remy 89)

Chelsea 3-0 Schalke (Eto'o 31, 54, Ba 83)

Chelsea 2-2 West Bromwich Albion (Eto'o 45, Long 60, Sessegnon 68, Hazard 90 pen)

West Ham United 0-3 Chelsea (Lampard 21 pen, 82, Oscar 34)

Basel 1-0 Chelsea (Salah 87)

Chelsea 3-1 Southampton (Rodriguez 1, Cahill 55, Terry 62, Ba 90)

Last Time Around: Sunderland 1-3 Chelsea, 08/12/12

Almost a year to the day Sunderland were defeated by Chelsea 3-1 at home thanks to goals from Fernando Torres and Juan Mata. Adam Johnson pulling one back for the home side.

Torres' double handed then-manager Rafa Benitez his first victory as Blues manager, while the pressure mounted on Martin O'Neill, who's side saw themselves slip into the relegation zone as a result of the defeat.

The Ref: Phil Dowd

Phil Dowd is one of the better known referees in the Premier League, although that's not necessarily because he's any good. This season though he's been relatively well behaved, dishing out only one red card and one penalty.

Dowd was also in charge for our visit to West Bromwich Albion earlier this season, whilst also oversaw the visitors in their 2-0 League Cup win over Arsenal.

Dowd has overseen 31 Sunderland games in his career so far, with us only winning a paltry 5.

What The Managers Said

Gus Poyet

I know Mourinho and I admire him a lot. He's a different class of person and manager. I know him in football ways and as a person.

I had the opportunity to watch him train a few times at Chelsea and it was very impressive.

I'm looking forward to seeing him before the game, and then I hope there are no problems between the benches during the game!

Jose Mourinho

We have other people that were playing in clubs not used to fighting for titles.

This culture of being comfortable with the pressure of trying to be top of the league, fighting until the last moment and knowing that every point can make a difference - this is something you need to learn how to live with.

Roker Report Predicts

Sunderland will be in for a tough time, but Chelsea have been shocked this season by 'smaller' sides and you can't rule out us picking something up from the game. It'll be tough, but a score draw looks a good bet and is our prediction for the game. 1-1.

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