Chelsea bounced back from last weekend’s Premier League defeat against Southampton by knocking Manchester United out of the FA Cup and put themselves in the driving seat against Rubin Kazan in the Europa League after winning 3-1 in the home leg, but a place in the top four is the priority for the West London club and they should be earning all three points when Sunderland visit on Sunday.
It will be Paolo Di Canio’s first game for the Black Cats and there’s been a lot of controversy and press attention surrounding the Italian ever since he took the job over speculation that he supports the ideology of Fascism, which he has denied, but he’s also suffering a few on-field headaches as Lee Cattermole and Stephen Fletcher are long term injury casualties, David Vaughan (groin) and Carlos Cuellar (ankle) are unlikely to feature, but Wes Brown may return after his knee injury.
Chelsea’s only long term absentee is Oriol Romeu (knee), with Gary Cahill (knee) and Ashley Cole (hamstring) are unavailable for now but there are no fresh concerns for interim manager Rafael Benitez and Demba Ba is once again available after being cup-tied on Thursday night.
The Blues have won 15 of their last 16 Premier League clashes against Sunderland and the visitors have lost their last three away matches in the league, so I’m confident of a Chelsea victory on Sunday. Di Canio’s side will probably play as though their lives depended on a result and we don’t always do thing the easy way, but I think we will have far too much for them.
Probably Chelsea Lineup:
C. Azpilicueta – B. Ivanovic – D. Luiz – R. Bertrand
Ramires – J. Mikel
Oscar – J. Mata – E. Hazard