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Preview: Chelsea vs. Sunderland

Precious teams on the line here for both sides for very different reasons...

Jan Kruger

Sunderland team news

Gus Poyet is expected to stick with the side that played so well against Manchester City in the week. The injury situation does seem to be easing slightly, though Liam Bridcutt, Phil Bardsley, Carlos Cuellar and Ki Sung-Yueng remain unavailable.

Chelsea team news

The big Chelsea team news remains the absence of the brilliant Eden Hazard. I say 'big', but I mean 'only'. Aside from the Belgian, Jose Mourinho has a full squad to pick from.

Predicted line-ups

Sunderland vs Chelsea - Football tactics and formations

Key match-up: Connor Wickham v John Terry

Wickham was a real handful against Manchester City and if he can replicate that here then he may just find John Terry, who has had an outstanding season in fairness, vulnerable to the kind of pace and power the youngster showed at The Etihad.

Recent form: WLLWWW

Win: Chelsea 6-0 Arsenal

Loss: Crystal Palace 1-0 Chelsea

Loss: PSG 3-1 Chelsea

Win: Chelsea 3-0 Stoke

Win: Chelsea 2-0 PSG

Win: Swansea 0-1 Chelsea

Last Time Around: Chelsea 2-1 Sunderland, 7/4/2013

Paolo Di Canio began his whirlwind reign as Sunderland manager at Stamford Bridge and even saw his time take the lead before an 8-minute second half blitz saw the Blues home.

Referee: Mike Dean

The experienced Wirral-born Dean has not encountered Sunderland often this season but has been a lucky charm. His two games involving Sunderland have both seen wins for the Black Cats, first against Manchester City and then against Fulham.

What the managers said

Gus Poyet

People will ask how is it possible Sunderland might break Chelsea’s long unbeaten record at Stamford Bridge.

But why not?

Steve Holland (Jose couldn't be arsed)

Sunderland were excellent in the week at Man City and were minutes away from being only the second team in the Premier League to win there this season, so it will be a very difficult game.

We have to approach it in a professional manner. This game is of huge importance.

Roker Report predicts

Tipping Sunderland for a battering in midweek didn't do us any harm, so I'll tip another home win here. I'll go 2-0 Chelsea.