Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Chelsea play Sunderland in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Despite losing their 86-match unbeaten run at Stamford Bridge last week to Liverpool 1-0, Chelsea bounced straight back on Wednesday, with a 3-0 win against Premier League surprise package Hull City at the KC Stadium. Scolari was critical of his Chelsea side after the defeat to the Reds, but was full of praise for their win over the Tigers and will now start setting about making Stamford Bridge the fortress it was for four-and-a-half years, all over again. Beginning with Roy Keane’s side on Saturday.
Keane knows that any side he sends out on Saturday against Chelsea, will have to play like the Sunderland team that beat Newcastle United in the North East derby last week and not the one that lost to Stoke City 1-0 at the Britannia Stadium on Wednesday. With the former Manchester United player only to aware that a run of bad results could soon see the Black Cats slip from their comfortable place in mid-table to the danger end of the Premier League.
Scolari will be without Ricardo Cavarlho, who limped off in the game against Hull, with a thigh muscle strain and will be out for three weeks, German International Michael Ballack (calf) and Didier Drogba (knee) will also miss the visit of Sunderland. Michael Essien (knee) is still months away from a return to action, but Joe Cole is expected to recover in time after also limping out of the game at Hull with an ankle knock.
Sunderland’s Darren Ward (back) will miss the trip to Stamford Bridge, while keeper Craig Gordon should recover from a sprained ankle in time, but has been told by Keane he might not dislodge Marton Fulop between the posts.
The one selection dilemma Keane does face is whether to give striker Kenwyne Jones his first start of the campaign after injury, with the Sunderland boss suggesting Jones could start on Saturday, with Keane hailing the substitute appearance of Jones against Stoke as the one bright spot in the defeat to the Potters.
Keane said: “The one bonus would be Kenwyne Jones coming on again. I thought he looked sharp, both going forward and defensively. He would be the big plus.
“As much as I want to be patient with him, he is making it hard for me now to leave him out this weekend.
"You saw on Saturday and again (at Stoke) not just the boost he gave me, but the boost he gave the supporters and his team-mates. He is a big player for us.”
Chelsea: (from) Cech, Alex, A Cole, Terry, Bosingwa, Bridge, Ferreira, J Cole, Lampard, Malouda, Anelka, Mikel, Kalou, Di Santo, Sinclair, Deco, Cudicini, Mineiro, Belletti, Hilario, Stoch, Ivanovic
Sunderland: Gordon, Nosworthy, Ferdinand, McCartney, Malbranque, Tainio, Chimbonda, Whitehead, Leadbitter, Cisse, Diouf, Jones, Bardsley, Richardson, Miller, Murphy, Collins, Chopra, Yorke, Reid, Healy, M’Voto, Connolly, Fulop, Waghorn, Dowson, Meyler, Prica