@GRokerReport - Yes!
Big Sam has hinted that he may well shake things up slightly at the weekend, and considering the way we played last week, I wouldn't blame him if he did.
With both Khazri and Borini out wide we have very little pace in behind Jermain Defoe, and this appears to becoming a real issue when it comes to productivity. Wahbi Khazri is a very good player but the fact he's yet to score a goal from open play since arriving here - only notching one assist in the same time - perhaps suggests that we maybe aren't utilising him in the right area of the pitch.
He's shown that he works hard off the ball, so why not play him in central midfield? We're missing a player that can provide the link between Jermain Defoe and the rest of the defence and in our recent home games we've fallen on Lee Cattermole to do that job, something he doesn't seem particularly comfortable doing. Yann M'Vila just hasn't impressed me for a number of weeks now and I feel dropping him in place of Khazri might re-address some balance issues.
Out wide I'd also give the nod to Duncan Watmore, for three very crucial reasons. One, Duncan has that pace on the flanks that we are sorely lacking. Two, the fans love him and when he has the ball it lifts the whole stadium - we cannot underestimate how important the atmosphere will be on Saturday. And three - I fully expect Chelsea will have the majority of the ball, so having players that can get us forward quickly to relieve pressure is essential.
Our biggest asset is Jermain Defoe, but he hasn't scored a goal at the Stadium of Light in four months. That tells me that we are setting up wrong in our home games, and with these two minor tweaks in personnel I think we'd be giving ourselves the best possible chance that we can to take the three points that we need.
Oh, and I'll also drop Dame N'Doye from the bench and replace him with whoever is the top scorer for the under eights. They can't be much worse.
@RoryFallow - No!
Let's not let one bad performance trick us into thinking that Sam Allardyce must ring the changes. It's no coincidence that we've started playing better and only lost one game in eight, since we've found a settled side. Yes, that side played poorly at Stoke and it was the worst performance in weeks but let's cut The Lads some slack. They've been fantastic recently and you can forgive them a bad day at the office, especially when we still managed to salvage something out of the game.
What changes could we even make? It would be foolish to switch the goalkeepers now, especially with Vito Mannone looking confident again. Younes Kaboul and Lamine Kone have been the main protagonists in us keeping clean sheets lately. We don't even have another left back and would you really want to throw Billy Jones in right now, at the expense of either DeAndre Yedlin or Patrick van Aanholt?
No one in their right mind would drop Jermain Defoe, the man who time and again has ensured we still have a chance of getting out of trouble. Wahbi Khazri and Fabio Borini may have struggled to affect the game at The Britannia Stadium but don't forget how dangerous Khazri was against Arsenal and just how big a part Borini played in the win over Norwich. The alternatives to either wide player would be Duncan Watmore, who is much better when coming off the bench, or Jeremain Lens, who doesn't have the work rate required for a relegation battle and won't offer sufficient cover to our attacking full backs. I'm not even going to mention Dame N'Doye because, well, it's obvious isn't it?
The main area people will clamour for changes in, will be the midfield. I can certainly see why people may call for Sebastian Larsson to be included but at the expense of who? Like Jermain Defoe, Jan Kirchhoff is too important to drop so let's not even entertain that idea. Lee Cattermole loves the big occasion, against big opposition and leads the team well so I wouldn't remove him. As for Yann M'Vila, he may have suffered a dip in form but it's worth noting that he's often a big performer against big opposition. A couple of weeks ago against Arsenal, he turned in his best performance in weeks whilst in the win over Manchester United, he was arguably the best midfielder on the pitch.
Against Chelsea it will be very much a "must not lose", to borrow a phrase from Big Sam. Regardless of what other teams do on Saturday, a draw will certainly be a point gained against a side who, despite not having the season they planned on, are still more than capable of beating relegation threatened Sunderland. Keep playing a midfield three that can press, win the ball well and start off our attacks. The centre halfs that read the game so cleverly and snuff out danger before it fully develops. The front three that are creative, hard working and capable of getting us goals.
In the 0-0 draw with Arsenal, we were unlucky not take all three points and a showing like that against Chelsea will be enough for us to take something from the game. The best way to get any result at all on Saturday, is to stick with the team that proved they can do it against similar opposition. Time for Sam to Keep The Faith.
Who do you agree with? Vote below and leave your comments.