Jose Mourinho revealed that neither David Luiz nor Oscar will be available for the trip to Sunderland on Wednesday night but Samuel Eto’o is in contention.
The Cameroon forward picked up an injury during last week’s loss in Basel and it was anticipated that he would be unavailable for a couple of weeks but he has returned to training sooner than expected and Mourinho will make a decision on him following Tuesday’s training session.
Chelsea will come up against a familiar foe in Gus Poyet who is now manager at the Stadium of Light and he faces a few selection issues of his own as captain John O’Shea is a doubt with a muscle injury, whilst Adam Johnson, Jozy Altidore and Jack Colback will be hoping for recalls should Poyet decide to rotate his squad.
Sunderland have won their last two games at home and will be a sterner test than they were during Paolo Di Canio’s short and disastrous reign at the club.
The XI I would pick to play Sunderland:
C. Azpilicueta – G. Cahill – J. Terry (c) – A. Cole
J. Mikel – Ramires
A. Schurrle – J. Mata – E. Hazard
During the busy festive period it’s important to rotate the pack and Branislav Ivanovic has played a hell of a lot of football already this season so should be rested. At the same time Mourinho has said Ashley Cole will get an opportunity in the coming fixtures whilst Cesar Azpilicueta’s form should be rewarded by giving him the chance to play in his natural position.
I’m not entirely sure how Michael Essien managed to get in ahead of both Frank Lampard and John Obi Mikel for the home match against Sunderland but let’s hope that mistake isn’t repeated. One of Lampard or Mikel to play this game and the other to feature versus Stoke City at the weekend.
Andre Schurrle needs a run out as we haven’t seen much of him lately whilst Juan Mata earns his sport in his favoured position irrespective of Oscar’s fitness because of the performance he put in on Sunday.
I thought both Demba Ba and Fernando Torres made a nuisance of themselves at the weekend and gave the Southampton defence a lot of work to do, but Ba scored a goal and helped change the game when he came on at the break so I’d opt for him.