Sunderland: Carlos Cuellar - Out; Modibo Diakite, John O'Shea & Keiren Westwood - Doubtful
Chelsea: Marco Van Ginkel, David Luiz & Oscar - Out; Samuel Eto'o - Doubtful
Former Chelsea icon Gustavo Poyet will hope to make this game as awkward as possible for his former club in what is a must win match for Chelsea. In that sense Poyet will be disappointed to know Sunderland have not won or even drawn against Chelsea in their last five attempts.
Although Sunderland are stylistically a much changed team from the ones managed by Steve Bruce, Martin O'Neil and Paulo Di Canio, as seen against Man City, Sunderland will look to sit back and absorb what they can. This will fall straight into the hands of Chelsea, who unlike Man City are strong when it comes to defending.
Furthermore, by Sunderland holding back they are shackling their own attack in the process. For example, a side like Aston Villa are a tactical nightmare when they decide to withdraw and play on the counter. They have tough tackling midfielders and are rapid on the counter. A manager playing them does not know whether to overload the attack to break down the stubborn side or keep players back to prevent the counter. Arsenal did the first and ended up losing 3-1; Liverpool did the second and were lucky Sturridge scored a fantastic goal. Sunderland on the other hand are quite inaccurate with their tackles and attack lethargically.
Given Chelsea always line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation they are likely to attack through the middle, a good amount of their attacks go through that zone (right hand side of screenshot one). For that reason I shall focus on the midfielders likely to play in the middle for Sunderland.
While Oscar may be out, Edin Hazard (screenshot five) is in fantastic form and would not hold my breathe to find out if he will be brought down by a reckless challenge. He is the most fouled player in the league suffering 34 fouls, meanwhile Sunderland have given away two penalties and have four red cards to their name already - current league record.
Of course there is more to Chelsea than Hazard; for the past two seasons Mata was Chelsea's star player and he even through his mixed form he still is Chelsea's best playmaker. For those of you who have forgotten you can marvel at his stats from last year below: