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Match Preview: Chelsea (A) - It’s time for Sunderland to say goodbye to the Premier League

This weekend marks the final throes of a simply dreadful season; will Sunderland be able to bow out in style, or will they continue this season’s luckless theme and succumb to yet another defeat?

Sunderland v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

It’s a contrasting tale of polar proportions as champions Chelsea take on Championship-bound Sunderland in the final game of what has been a miserable campaign on Wearside. Chelsea and Conte have found silverware, and head forward into the future full of hope and confidence whereas Sunderland and David Moyes will carry on their loveless relationship a little while longer at least as question marks, meetings and rumours hang over our troubled clubs like prophetic symbols of doom.

What comes next is the question on the minds of many Sunderland fans, and the answer is unclear right now. Moyes is set to meet with Ellis Short and Martin Bain early next week as they try to fathom what is best for the club going forward:

I met Ellis a few weeks ago and we’ll meet again over the next couple of days. There’s been a meeting set for a while.

I’ve laid out some plans and given him ideas of how I think things should look going forward.

Regardless of how those talks progress Sunday marks the final game of this 2016/17 season, and Sunderland fans will be left disappointed. The Championship beckons next season.

Sunderland v Burnley - Premier League
Keeping faith with Moyesy?
Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

We normally spend some time talking about potential tactics, interesting tidbits and potential team-selections in these articles; however, this week there’s really very little left to say.

Regarding tactics and team-selection, David Moyes seems to have his hands tied behind his back ahead of this weekend’s game in the capital.

I will approach this game the same was as I approached Arsenal; we want to win and put in a good performance.The big problem is there are 11 senior players out injured for this game meaning I’m nearly back to the worst time of the season.

Kone, Denayer, Papi, Kirchhoff, Honeyman, Khazri, Ndong, Pienaar, McNair, Watmore and Anichebe [are out], so I think it’s about 11 that won’t feature due to injury.

We’ll have to try and put a bit of a patched-up team out to make sure we get a positive performance, like it was against Arsenal for lots of reasons.

Oh dear, that is a serious amount of injuries going into the final game of the season, and leaves Moyes certainly having to rely on several young players.

The youngsters were in action this week as they lost in the Premier League International Cup final by five goals to none against an exceptional Porto B team. Many players have been calling for them to be given an opportunity in recent weeks (myself included), yet this week’s u-23 defeat perhaps showed that many of them aren’t quite ready to make that step up and play first-team football.

Regardless of whether they’re ready or not though, Moyes will need several of them this weekend.

Manchester City v Sunderland - Premier League
Will Gooch be given the opportunity to prove his worth?
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Tactically Sunderland will be limited with what they can do due to so many injuries. However, it would be nice to see the linked of Lynden Gooch and Joel Asoro given some time. Gooch looked decent during the week and played some nice football against Porto B when moved more centrally; Asoro’s pace and trickery could also be utilised against a Chelsea side who won’t have seen him play much football - and it would be nice to see some Lads playing with some fire in their bellies.

I don’t see the point in reverting back to a 4-5-1 in the hope of saving face, and I’m not sure we have enough fit defenders to go with the 5-3-2 formation that looked solid in spells against Arsenal. Therefore, I think Moyes will go with a flat 4-4-2 system asking his wide players to come inside and find space. Regardless though, many of this season’s squad won’t be around come the end of the summer transfer window, and even the manager might not be here come next weekend; so really this weekend means very, very little.

Team News

Loads of injuries - wonder how many can’t be bothered, and have their bags packed already?

Predictions

Predicted XI: Pickford, Jones, O’Shea, Lescott, Oviedo, Cattermole, Larsson, Gibson, Asoro, Defoe, Borini.