Sunderland will be fighting for their top-flight survival when they take on ousted champions Chelsea at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
6 May 2016
Venue: Stadium of Light
Referee: M. Jones
Assistants: R. West, M. Scholes
Fourth official: G. Scott
TEAM MATCHES WIN DRAW LOSS
Sunderland 110 36 19 55
Chelsea 110 55 19 36
Chelsea 3-1 Sunderland 19/12/15 (Premier League)
Chelsea goalscorers: Ivanovic (5′), Pedro (13′), Oscar (50′)
Sunderland goalscorers: Borini (52′)
Players to watch:
Chelsea fans will be keeping an eye on playmaker Eden Hazard, who had failed to find the net this season until putting two past Bournemouth and also equalising against Spurs on Monday night to ended their London rivals’ title hoipes. The Belgian has not been close to his best this campaign, but seems to have hit some form in the closing stages, and will want to build on that.
For Sunderland, veteran striker Jermain Defoe is always a threat, and it was his penalty that rescued a vital point in their draw with Stoke City last weekend.
Another one to watch for the home side could be striker Fabio Borini, who came through the youth ranks at Stamford Bridge but failed to break into the team. The Italian forward scored against his former side when these two met earlier in the campaign, and will be very eager to do so again.
Team form and manager quotes:
The Black Cats remain in the drop zone after winning just one of their last eight league matches, including six stalemates. However, they are just one point behind Newcastle United, who have played a game more, and one ahead of second-last Norwich City, so there’s still all to play for at the bottom end of the standings.
Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce looked at Chelsea’s heated clash with Spurs as something to be avoided, and urged his players to keep their wits about them despite the occasion, against a Chelsea side that can be wily and get under their opponent’s skin.
“What happened to Tottenham mentally, we cannot afford for that to happen to our team,” said Big Sam. “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.”
The Blues, despite being destined for a mid-table finish with their current position of ninth, have the ability to influence the situation at either end of the standings. Their most recent result, a 2-2 draw with London rivals Spurs, sealed the league title for Leicester, while victory over Sunderland could hand a huge boost to the other two relegation scrappers.
Guus: 'Sunderland have a very experienced manager who will fine-tune the team in the right way, it's a difficult game.' #CFC
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) May 6, 2016
Blues boss Guus Hiddink admitted that “Monday’s game was hot” and “there were too many chest-to-chest situations”, but insisted that his players will treat the game like professionals, despite having little care for the outcome, while praising his opposite number as a savvy tactician capable of keeping the Black Cats in the top flight.
“Being at a big club, you have the obligation to act well as a player. They’ve done that and will do it in the next three games,” the Dutchman said.
“Sunderland have a very experienced manager who will fine-tune the team in the right way, it’s a difficult game.”
Guus says there are no fresh injuries ahead of tomorrow's game. #CFC
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) May 6, 2016
Hiddink has confirmed that Chelsea have no fresh injury concerns, meaning that Loic Remy (groin strain) and Kurt Zouma (anterior cruciate ligament) remain their only absentees.
For Sunderland, Allardyce will also have an almost full-strength squad to choose from, as defender Billy Jones (hip/thigh) is their only player sidelined.