Sunderland’s revival under Martin O’Neill faces another serious test as the Black Cats travel to Stamford Bridge to take on a Chelsea side looking to get back into the top four.
O’Neill’s side are on the back of a four match unbeaten run since the appointment of the Northern Irish manager and emphatically dispatched Wigan 4-1 in their last outing. Sunderland also have Manchester City on their scalp list and will be confident his side can cause an upset at Stamford Bridge. O’Neill faces injury worries with Wes Brown, Titus Bramble and Jack Colback, but could be boosted by the return of Nicklas Bendtner from a minor knee problem. The Black Cats have moved confidently up the table and into the top half since O’Neill’s arrival and have allayed all fears of relegation from Sunderland fans.
Chelsea are currently fourth in the table, but sit 11 points adrift of league leaders Manchester City and are eight behind joint-second placed Manchester United and Tottenham. Andre Villas-Boas believes his side can still challenge for the title and a gritty win away at Wolves in their last game showed the commitment Chelsea players have to winning the Premier League. Chelsea had hoped to have Bolton defender Gary Cahill signed for the weekend, but problems with personal terms have stopped any move this week for the England international. Florent Malouda is doubtful after picking up an injury against Portsmouth in the FA Cup, but Daniel Sturridge and John Terry have been passed fit for the game.
The Blues have suffered with some poor form at Stamford Bridge and Aston Villa, Liverpool and Arsenal have all won at Stamford Bridge so far this season. Confidence in high within the Black Cats camp and Sunderland will believe they can get victory. Chelsea should have enough to see off the revived Sunderland and strengthen their position in the top four.
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