Sunderland are free to relax in their final game of the season as they go to Chelsea, who afterwards will lift the Premier League trophy three weeks since being crowned champions.
Such has been the Blues’ dominance of the top-flight this season, they were able to afford a shoddy performance and a bizarre sending off for Cesc Fabregas as they were well beaten 3-0 at West Bromwich Albion on Monday. Typically, Jose Mourinho pointed the finger of blame at their faltering title rivals.
Diego Costa was back in the team at the Hawthorns and ruffled a few feathers as ever, and he will be keen to make it 20 league goals for the season here. Meanwhile, should Petr Cech feature in goal it could prove to be his final game in a Chelsea shirt, despite Mourinho’s reluctance to let him go.
Keeping Sunderland in the Premier League was latest fine achievement of Dick Advocaat’s lengthy coaching career, overseeing three clean sheets in a row to move on to 38 points, a total which looked unattainable when he took charge in mid-March.
The manner in which they defended to earn a draw at Arsenal on Wednesday was truly heroic as they were always able to make a crucial block when it mattered, while goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon was in top form. They may have won this fixture in 2014, but they will be thankful not to go to Stamford Bridge needing a result to stay up.
Fabregas serves a one-match ban for Chelsea, who are also unable to call upon Kurt Zouma, Oscar and Ramires, while Eden Hazard is doubtful.
Vito Mannone will deputise in goal for Sunderland after Pantilimon picked up a knee problem. Danny Graham is a major doubt, with Jordi Gomez and Liam Bridcutt also sidelined.
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