Chelsea are in free fall. The Blues came out of the gates strong, but they have completely fallen apart in recent weeks, highlighted by their elimination from the Champions League on Wednesday. Now they must try to regroup against Sunderland.
If there's any good news for Chelsea, it's the fact the Black Cats have been struggling as well. They have earned just one point in their last three matches. The club's struggles have been mostly due to a punchless offense that is averaging less than a goal per game.
Here's a look at all the key viewing information for Saturday's match, along with a preview and prediction as the Blues attempt to right the ship.
Where: Stadium of Light in Sunderland, England
When: Saturday, Dec. 8, at 10 a.m. ET
Watch: ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes
Live Stream: ESPN3.com
It wasn't all bad news for Chelsea on Wednesday. Even though they were eliminated from the CL, ending their hopes of a title defense, they actually put together one of their best performances of the season in a 6-1 victory.
Although it wasn't enough to push them through to the knockout stages, it allowed Rafa Benitez to get a victory under his belt and break the club's winless skid, which lasted nearly a month. Now they must find a way to build off it.
The Blues have far too much talent to remain stuck in their current slump for much longer. It's just one of those things that began to snowball after a few lackluster performances. Almost every team goes through a period like that during the campaign.
Perhaps the best sign of all from the Nordsjaelland victory was Fernando Torres scoring twice. They were his first tallies since a Champions League goal against Shakhtar Donetsk. That was also Chelsea's last win, showing his importance to the squad's success.
As for Sunderland, they are just hoping to get some breathing room in terms of the relegation zone. The Black Cats are currently one point ahead of 18th-placed Southampton—and also have a match in hand—as the halfway point approaches.
The status of Steven Fletcher, the club's most reliable player so far, won't be decided until just before the match due to an ankle injury. If he's unable to go, Sunderland will face a much tougher challenge trying to keep pace with the Blues.
Ultimately, Chelsea should be able to secure all three points as they attempt to get back in the Premier League race before it's too late.
Prediction: Chelsea 2, Sunderland 1