The Premier League champions suffered a mild blip on Monday night as West Brom defeated a 10-man Chelsea 3-0 at the Hawthorns, snapping their 16-match unbeaten streak. This was only the second time in 23 Premier League games that the Blues have failed to score.
Dick Advocaat’s Sunderland A.F.C travel to Stamford Bridge to take on the Premier League champions this Sunday. Crowned as the Barclay’s Manager of the year, Jose Mourinho will want to end the successful campaign with a win over the Black Cats before lifting the Premier League trophy.
Let’s analyze our opponents:
Based in Sunderland, the club was formed in 1879. The Black Cats have won six first division titles, the FA Cup twice, the second tier title five times and the third tier title once. They play their home games at the 49,000 capacity Stadium Of Light having moved from Roker Park in 1997. Since their promotion to the Premier League in 2007, The Black Cats have become one of the world’s wealthiest football brands, being valued at USD 53 million in 2014, 31st in the world overall.
After their recent goalless draw against Arsenal, Sunderland have successfully survived being relegated this season. With the arrival of their interim manager Dick Advocaat, Sunderland have won three and drawn two of the eight games he has managed. They have managed to win against in-form sides like Southampton and Everton in recent weeks. It has been a troubling season for Sunderland, but they come into Sunday’s game safe and relaxed.
Last 5 Premier League games: D-W-W-D-D
Dick Advocaat has a list of injuries to deal with ahead of Sunday’s clash. The Black Cats will be without Ricky Alverez, who hasn’t featured a lot this season and first team players like Jordi Gomez, Liam Bridcutt, and Wes Brown. Sebastian Larsson also remains doubtful to start against Chelsea on Sunday.
Costel Pantilimon will miss Sunderland’s final game of the 2014-15 season. (Source: Official Sunderland AFC)
Dick Advocaat has found recent success in his 4-3-3 formation and will stand by it to face the champions. Defoe, Fletcher, and Johnson will start upfront with Cattermole, Rodwell and Larsson in midfield. The centre-back pairing of Coates and O’Shea will guard their in-form goalkeeper Pantilimon while Jones and van Aanholt start on their respective flanks.
Strength – Key Player
The midfield will turn into a battle ground as Nemanja Matic will go head to head against one of the toughest midfielders in the Premier League in Lee Cattermole. The England International has a reputation for tough tackles and cynical challenges, picking up 14 yellow cards and is one away from a 3-match suspension. As far as getting the job done is concerned, Cattermole is right up to the mark. With the 27-year old in midfield, the Chelsea players will find it tough to pierce through towards the final third of the pitch.
The Black Cats may not possess the same talent as that of the team they are about to face, but also lack in physical strength. With players like Wickham and Fletcher out of Sunday’s game, Lee Cattermole remains to be the only player physical enough to derail this Chelsea squad. Players like Terry, Cahill, Costa and Ivanovic might have a field day scoring from set-pieces and corners. This is something Sunderland might lose out on if the game turns intense.
Head to Head
The Black Cats and The Blues have faced each other 118 times with Chelsea winning 57 of them and Sunderland with 39; the two teams have shared points on 22 occasions.
– Sunderland have won only one of their 13 final day games in Premier League history.
– If Chelsea fail to win, they will be only the second Champions in the last 12 seasons to end with fewer than 86 points
– Chelsea have not lost successive Premier League games under Jose Mourinho since May 2006
– The Black Cats have been involved in nine 0-0 draws in this season, four more than any other side.
An emotional Dick Advocaat was happy to see the spirit and quality of his side come out at the right time, he said:
“The team believed in what we were trying to do from day one, but nobody believed we would do it here against a great team. I always told them to believe in their quality. To have done it on our own, this gives me a special feeling.” (on their successful survival battle in the Barclays Premier League next season)
It will be a day of celebration for both clubs as Sunderland come into this game without any pressure, having survived for another year and Chelsea will lap up the Premier League trophy presentation. Heroes of the 2005 title side will parade on the pitch before kick-off and for few others this might be their last game as a Blue. The Champagne will be put on ice for a day filled with celebrations for the players, manager and most significantly the Blue fans.
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Edited By: Vikram
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