Chelsea face Sunderland at home on Saturday looking for a third win in a row in all competitions after contrasting victories over PSG and Swansea. While the PSG win was a special, unexpected, glorious victory to take us into the Champions League Semi Finals, Sunday’s win over 10 men Swansea was more of a relief. It wasn’t the greatest of performance but keeps us in touching distance of the leaders Liverpool with Man City still breathing down our necks, despite their defeat at Anfield on Sunday and dropped two points against Saturday’s opposition at home on Wednesday. Those results know means the title is effectively in our own hands, but winning all four of our remaining games will be easier said than done. The main similarity between our two most recent victories over the French and Welsh sides was the match winner, with Demba Ba’s two goals in two games staking his claim to be a regular starter.
Following the Swansea win, Chelsea have had six days to prepare for this game against yet another side battling relegation, and were given a two day rest on Monday and Tuesday before the hard work on the training pitch started again on Wednesday. The Mackems current position at the foot of the table looks ominous, they currently lie six points from safety with a game in hand, and former Blue Gus Poyet has his work cut out to keep them up after fine cup exploits in which they reached the Capital One Cup Final and FA Cup Quarter Finals.
Chelsea’s line-up will be interesting, given the fact that the vital first leg with Atletico happens just three days later, and was indeed the catalyst for moving this game forward a day. The decision taken will appease some fans that can now spend Easter day with their families, but it does mean we must play before our title rivals yet again. Ashley Cole, who looked strong as a substitute against Stoke, could be started as he will probably be at the Vicente Calderon, due to Ivanovic’s Champions League suspension. The fact Ivanovic, Salah and Matic all cannot play on Tuesday may mean they are given a lengthy run out to rest others, depending on Mourinho’s approach. It is highly unlikely Hazard will feature at all. Blues fans will hope his injury lay off doesn’t last too much longer, but it does give an opportunity for Schurrle to step up and show his worth, particularly after his superb display against PSG. Club stalwarts Cech, Terry and Lampard’s experience could all prove vital for the run in.
Chelsea will not want to drop any points at this stage with only four league games remaining, and will be cautious after recent defeats to Aston Villa and Crystal Palace. Despite these discrepancies occurring against so called weaker opposition, it is however away that most of our troubles have lied and Chelsea have only dropped four points at home all season. Those were surrendered with draws against West Ham and West Brom, whilst Mourinho’s incredible unbeaten home record still goes on and on and on and on. The trips to Atletico and Liverpool will be in the back of the players’ minds but cannot rule their thoughts as they look to see off the North Easterns side’s threat.
Any neutrals watching will hope the game is as thrilling as the 4-3 win in the reverse fixture for Chelsea at the Stadium of Light in December. Mike Dean is the referee.