Sunderland will be seeking to turn the Premier League table upside down on Wednesday night at the Stadium of Light, as they face a formidable Chelsea team.
After the hugely disappointing 3-0 loss to Swansea City last time out, the Black Cats are back at the bottom of the pile, just two points off safety. However, given Chelsea, three points clear at the summit, are chasing their 10th league win in a row, it’d be a huge surprise to see Sunderland pick up a victory here.
Nevertheless, these types of contests are always fascinating, and you can bet the home crowd will be behind the men in red and white.
Here’s the latest team news ahead of this one, the key viewing details and a look ahead to how the match is likely to pan out.
Date: Wednesday, Dec. 14
Time: 7:45 p.m. (GMT), 2:45 p.m. (ET)
Live Stream: NBCSN (U.S.)
TV Info: NBC Sports App (U.S.)
Sunderland: The big blow for manager David Moyes heading into the game is the absence of Didier Ndong, who will miss the match due to suspension. Duncan Watmore, Jack Rodwell and Lee Cattermole will also be absent with injuries.
Likely XI: Jordan Pickford; Billy Jones, Papy DjilobodjI, Lamine Kone, Patrick van Aanholt; Sebastian Larsson, Jan Kirchhoff, Jason Denayer, Steven Pienaar; Jermain Defoe, Victor Anichebe
Chelsea: Antonio Conte has no fresh injury concerns for the trip to Sunderland, with Nemanja Matic making his return to the starting XI in the win over West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.
Likely XI: Thibaut Courtois; Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Gary Cahill; Victor Moses, N’Golo Kante, Nemanja Matic, Marcos Alonso; Pedro, Diego Costa, Eden Hazard
Team news courtesy of Fantasy Football Scout.
The Chelsea juggernaut continued to build momentum against West Brom on Sunday, posting its ninth win in succession. As we edge closer to Christmas, the Blues have taken the division by storm and are looking increasingly like the team to beat in pursuit of the Premier League title.
What has been impressive about Conte’s team is the different ways in which they’ve won matches. The Blues were faced with an extremely defensive Baggies side at the weekend, and eventually they managed to find a gap in the visitors’ otherwise watertight defensive structure, despite being frustrated for long spells.
Costa, with 12 goals for the season, is a man who’s become an expert at exploiting these tiny chinks in the opposition armour, as he conjured a chance from nothing to help the Blues to victory. Bleacher Report's Rik Sharma thinks there’s no better striker than the Chelsea man in world football at the moment:
Rik Sharma @riksharma_
There's no better No 9 in the world than Diego Costa this season.2016-12-11 13:38:41
Indeed, aside from his goals, Costa brings aggression, work rate and refined hold-up play to the point of the Chelsea attack. And it’s difficult to see how Sunderland are going to shut down his influence on Wednesday, especially if they defend as they did against Swansea on Saturday.
Moyes would have been hugely disappointed with the effort of his players at the Liberty Stadium, as they showed a lack of discipline and awareness against their fellow relegation strugglers.
As we can see here courtesy of the Match of the Day Twitter feed, at the moment Sunderland seem incapable of shutting the opposition out:
Match of the Day @BBCMOTD
Sunderland have only kept one clean sheet in their last 16 Premier League games #MOTD https://t.co/perWPcf6mk2016-12-10 23:47:12
Against an in-form Costa, supported by the guile of Hazard and direct running of Pedro, that will be a serious problem. The Black Cats will likely adopt similar tactics to West Brom, although they’ve not showcased the focus and application required to pull off such a defensive display.
Chelsea will see this is another excellent opportunity to continue their winning run and will cause Sunderland a lot of issues with their attacking variety.
Expect another professional display from Conte’s men, who will be desperate to begin the new year at the top of the pile.
Prediction: Sunderland 0-2 Chelsea