Chelsea - Sunderland: Preview and Lineups Prediction

Chelsea begins life after Jose Mourinho with a crucial fixture against fellow relegation battlers Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on Sa...

Chelsea begins life after Jose Mourinho with a crucial fixture against fellow relegation battlers Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon.

Many Blues supporters and players are reeling from the Special One's departure following his calamitous fall from grace, but there's some cause for optimism as we begin a clean slate and look to rebuild our season.

Both sides, sitting in 16th and 19th place respectively, are in a similar predicament ahead of the weekend: struggling for form and desperate to scrape together however many points they can over the congested December period.

Sunderland Team News

Sebastian Coates could be forced onto the bench through illness, while Lee Cattermole (back) and Sebastian Larsson (knee) are ruled out until late December or early January.

Sunderland Starting XI Prediction

Pantilimon | Jones, Brown, O'Shea, Kaboul, Van Aanholt | Toivonen, M'Vila, Rodwell | Fletcher, Defoe

Last Five Meetings

Chelsea 3-1 Sunderland (Premier League, May 2015)
Sunderland 0-0 Chelsea (Premier League, November 2014)
Chelsea 1-2 Sunderland (Premier League, April 2012)
Sunderland 2-1 Chelsea (League Cup, December 2013)
Sunderland 3-4 Chelsea (Premier League, December 2004)

Score Prediction

Whichever side of the fence you sit on regarding Jose Mourinho's dismissal, there's no question this match against Sunderland is one of the most important of our season. I believe only time will tell if Roman Abramovich was right to let him go, but who could possibly have a clue whether his departure will have anything to do with he performance we see on Saturday?

I certainly don't have high hopes of the Blues suddenly flourishing with no permanent manager to steer the ship. It's too easy to assume we're presented with a perfect opportunity to wash away the past few days of misery with a resounding win over Sunderland. The Black Cats are a team with problems of its own, yet one that's scored more and conceded less goals than us this season.

The absence of Mourinho probably won't (and shouldn't) give rise to any sort of Chelsea resurgence against Sunderland, otherwise the problems within the squad could be worse than any of us thought. I think we'll stutter to a 1-1 draw and then aim to reset over the coming week or so once we find a temporary manager. What are your score predictions?

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