Preview: Sunderland v Chelsea

Struggling Sunderland will face one their sternest tests of the season when they welcome title-chasing Chelsea to the Stadium of Light on Wednesday evening.
 

Premier League
14 December 2016
Matchday 16
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Venue: Stadium of Light
 
Referee: Neil Swarbrick
Assistants: J Collin, M Wilkes
Fourth official: M Atkinson 
 
Head-to-head summary:
 
TEAM                     MATCHES  WIN   DRAW   LOSS
 
Sunderland               111      37    19     55
Chelsea                  111      55    19     37 
 
Previous encounter:
 
Sunderland 3-2 Chelsea 07/05/16 (Premier League)
 
Sunderland goalscorers: W. Khazri (41'), F. Borini (67'), J. Defoe (70')
 
Chelsea goalscorers: Diego Costa (14'), N. Matic (45') 
 
Players to watch:
 
If there's one player who will be key to Sunderland's hopes of survival, then one would have to look no further than striker Jermain Defoe.
 
The 32-year-old has eight goals and two assists to his name this season and will be determined to add to his tally, especially after drawing a blank in the 3-0 defeat to Swansea last time out.
 
Another Black Cats player to look out for is Victor Anichebe – the former Everton man has just three goals to his name, although all three have come in his last five appearances.
 
Chelsea have several players who can decide a match on their own, but the obvious choice, based on current form, is striker Diego Costa.
 
The controversial Spain international has seemingly turned over a new leaf this season, and is currently the Premier League's top scorer with 12 goals to his name, including five assists.
 
And, with four goals and three assists in his last five appearances, it would be a brave man who bets against the former Atletico Madrid adding to his tally on Wednesday. 
 
Team form and manager quotes:
 
Sunderland boss David Moyes is under immense pressure with his side rooted to the foot of the table.
 
And, after two defeats in their last fixtures, Moyes says he has spoken to his players about where he feels they can improve.
 
"We did not play as well on Saturday. I watched it again and was not happy with a lot of things we did in the game so I have shown the players and told them and they know what we need to do," Moyes said.
 
"We have to get back to winning games but the difference is we are playing a top side, probably the most in-form in the country.
 
"That brings its own difficulties, never mind our own team.
 
"Conte is doing well. They have a style of play at the moment, something that is pretty new.
 
"Of course, we have all come against three at the back or 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 but we are now coming up someone who has worked at it in his country for a long time as well and probably played in it as a player.
 
"He has come here and put it to them in a way he wants it to be done and they will probably play this system now for rest of season."
 
Chelsea, meanwhile, have emerged as the early favourites for the EPL title after recording nine consecutive victories.
 
However, despite seeing his side flying high at the summit of the league table, Blues boss Antonio Conte is wary of the threat posed by the Black Cats.
 
"We all know Sunderland are bottom of the table, but if you look at the last five games they're fifth in the table, taking nine points," he said.
 
"For this reason, we have to pay great attention to the game, be focused and concentrated from the start of the game until the end." 
 
Team news:
 
Sunderland will have to make do without the services of suspended midfielder Didier Ndong, while Jan Kirchhoff is pushing for a start after two cameo appearances from the bench.
 
For Chelsea, Conte has just one selection poser in the shape of midfielder Oscar. The Brazilian rated doubtful due to a virus, although he was also been linked with a big-money move to Chinese outfit Shanghai SIPG.
 
The Italian tactician has an otherwise fully-fit squad to choose from.

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