Managerless Chelsea start life without Jose Mourinho as they welcome Sunderland to Stamford Bridge in what, remarkably, could be termed as a relegation six-pointer.
The Blues dispensed with their Portuguese boss this week after slipping to their ninth defeat of the season at Leicester on Monday night, and Mourinho departs with Chelsea sat in 16th place, just a single point above the drop zone.
The hosts have won just one of their last seven Premier League games, and it is now up to the players – the majority of which won the league last year – to step up their games and help the side climb back to where they are expected to be.
One of those underperforming players, Eden Hazard, is still looking for his first Premier League goal of the season – last season’s PFA Player of the Year needs to rediscover his form if his side are going to escape from trouble.
Sunderland head to the capital looking to avoid a third consecutive Premier League defeat, having slipped to a 1-0 reverse at home to Watford last time out.
Sam Allardyce’s side sit second-bottom, two points adrift of safety; incredibly, the Black Cats could draw level on points with Chelsea if they win at Stamford Bridge this weekend.
The Wearsiders won in West London two seasons ago as part of their ‘Great Escape’ – another success this weekend and the league table at Christmas will look a lot brighter for the Mackems.
Hazard is a doubt for the hosts after picking up a hip injury in Monday’s defeat, whilst Gary Cahill and Pedro will hope to benefit if the Blues’ pack is reshuffled, having both been out of the side in recent weeks.
Lee Cattermole and Sebastian Larsson remain missing for Sunderland, who will also be without defender Sebastian Coates, while Younes Kaboul is expected to be fit to take his place in the back four.
League Position: Chelsea – 16th (15 pts); Sunderland – 19th (12 pts)
Last Meeting: Chelsea 3-1 Sunderland (May 24, 2015)
Form: Chelsea – LLWDLL; Sunderland – LLWWLL
Key Players: Chelsea – Willian; Sunderland – Duncan Watmore
Shoot Says: Chelsea 1-0 Sunderland