Kick Off: 3:00pm, 7th May 2016
Venue: Stadium Of Light, Sunderland
Last Season: Sunderland 0-0 Chelsea
Dafabet Odds: Sunderland: 15/8 Draw: 12/5 Chelsea: 6/4
I have absolutely no idea how tomorrow is going to go, and as a result the pressure surrounding the impact of this weekend's result against Chelsea is almost unbearable.
In recent years we've beaten much better Chelsea sides than this one, so I'm not discounting the fact we could take three points, but last weekend's performance at Stoke felt like a huge step back and we have to cling on to the hope that it was just a one off. Since the end of January we've been far better, with the display last weekend probably our worse since the new signings came into the team.
All the talk this week has surrounded whether or not Sam should make changes to his side, and whether or not the team that he has stuck by for a number of games now is offensive enough to score goals, particularly at home. With a fully fit squad to pick from, his options for change are strangely quite slim - bar giving Seb Larsson or Duncan Watmore a start, we don't have a great deal of depth in our side and as a result, changes in the final three matches are probably going to be minimal.
I mentioned this is yesterday's Make Your Case, but I feel that we aren't doing enough to get the best out of Jermain Defoe in our home games. The fact he hasn't scored for four months at home is telling, though his record against Chelsea over the years has been outstanding and you just have to hope that tomorrow is his day.
In truth, I don't care whose day it is, as long as we walk away with three points. It could go in off Dame N'Doye's arse for all that I care, I just want us to take the pressure off ourselves with three points, especially with Newcastle playing the hapless Aston Villa at the same time we face Gus Hiddink's side.
Referee: Mike Jones
Assistants: R West & M Scholes
Fourth Official: G Scott
Sunderland have no fresh injury concerns, meaning Sam Allardyce has a fully-fit squad to select from. Following the disappointing performance at Stoke, Allardyce has hinted he may well change his team at the weekend, but whether he actually does remains to be seen.
Loic Remy and Kurt Zouma will be Chelsea's only absentees, though Gus Hiddink is expected to allow some of the Chelsea players who haven't played as much recently to start the game.
Sunderland - DDWLDD
30 Apr 2016 - Stoke City 1-1 Sunderland
24 Apr 2016 - Sunderland 0-0 Arsenal
16 Apr 2016 - Norwich City 0-3 Sunderland
10 Apr 2016 - Sunderland 0-2 Leicester City
02 Apr 2016 - Sunderland 0-0 West Bromwich Albion
20 Mar 2016 - Newcastle United 0-0 Sunderland
Chelsea - DWLLWD
02 May 2016 - Chelsea 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur
23 Apr 2016 - AFC Bournemouth 1-4 Chelsea
16 Apr 2016 - Chelsea 0-3 Manchester City
09 Apr 2016- Swansea City 1-0 Chelsea
02 Apr 2016 - Aston Villa 0-4 Chelsea
19 Mar 2016 - Chelsea 2-2 West Ham United
Sam Allardyce on holding our nerve:
You saw it in Tottenham, I think, on Monday night when they lost the plot. We can't afford to do that. We have to stay focused from start to finish.
Tottenham lost a goal then lost the plot mentally, so then all of a sudden, all the talent they have in that side just went by the way and they ended up not only losing the game, but doing the strangest thing I've ever seen a Tottenham side do, and that's get nine players booked and make some quite ferocious tackles at the same time.
That shows you. What happened to Tottenham mentally, we cannot afford for that to happen to our team..Perhaps it's because they are, as Mauricio says, such a young team that they in the end, couldn't quite cope with that pressure and lost the plot.
That's the last reaction we want from our team in any of the last three games. We want to be aggressive, yes, we want controlled aggression, passion, desire, commitment, yes. But we don't want to go over the top and lose control of ourselves.
Head To Head
19 Dec 2015 - Chelsea 3-1 Sunderland
24 May 2015 - Chelsea 3-1 Sunderland
29 Nov 2014 - Sunderland 0-0 Chelsea
19 Apr 2014 - Chelsea 1-2 Sunderland
04 Dec 2013 - Sunderland 3-4 Chelsea
07 Apr 2013 - Chelsea 2-1 Sunderland
Stats & Facts
- Sunderland have lost nine of their last 11 home Barclays Premier League games against Chelsea (D2). They last beat the Blues in October 2000 at the Stadium of Light.
- Former Blues forward Fabio Borini has scored in two of his three Premier League appearances against Chelsea for Sunderland.
- A league-high 19 different players have scored for Chelsea in the Premier League this season.
- Chelsea have won 19 and lost just two of their last 22 Premier League games against Sunderland.
- Chelsea have won six and lost just one of their last nine Premier League away matches, conceding just four times in that run.
- Cesc Fabregas has scored four Premier League goals against Sunderland, his joint-best haul against any opponent (along with Everton).
- Just three of Jermain Defoe's 14 goals for the Black Cats in the Premier League this season have been scored at the Stadium of Light.
Our last home win was against Manchester United, and I feel that if we are going to win this weekend we have to approach the game in a similar vein.
This season, Chelsea's midfield has been lacklustre to say the least and the key battle is in there. Lee Cattermole and Jan Kirchhoff in particular need to have a good game if we are going to take anything, and for some strange reason I feel we have what it takes to win this weekend.
I'm going for a 1-0 win, with Jermain Defoe scoring the only goal of the game.
In truth.... please don't lose, Sunderland. We don't want to be going into the Everton game under any more pressure than we already are.