While they were not involved directly, Chelsea played a huge role in deciding where the Premier League title ended up after their 2-2 draw against rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Monday night handed Leicester City the English crown.
Chelsea did enjoy a quiet sense of satisfaction at denying Tottenham a chance to win the title and now the Blues look set to have a big say in the relegation battle as well.
The former English champions prepare to square off against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Saturday and one can be sure that the encounter will be a difficult one for Guus Hiddink’s side as they will be battling out against a Black Cats’ outfit desperate for the points.
Here is the strongest possible Chelsea lineup for the clash against Sunderland –
Thibaut Courtois has missed out on the last two matches due to suspension and the Belgian should make a return to the lineup this weekend at the expense of Asmir Begovic, who has done fairly well as the deputy goalkeeper.
At the back, there should be very few changes and one suspects that the quartet of John Terry, Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic and Cesar Azpilicueta will make up the back four on the day.
Kurt Zouma still remains ruled out but the likes of Kenedy and Abdul Baba Rahman provide Hiddink alternate options to choose from.
The duo of Nemanja Matic and John Obi Mikel have been striking quite a partnership in the deep midfield position and they are likely to continue in the same positions this weekend as well.
This means that Cesc Fabregas will be deployed in a more advanced role and he will once again be looking to pull the strings behind the lone front man.
Willian looks likely to start on the right wing but Pedro is expected to drop out of the lineup to facilitate Eden Hazard, who completely changed the game on its head against Tottenham following his introduction at half time.
Diego Costa unsurprisingly got himself into a couple of scuffles in the clash against Tottenham but much to his credit, the Spaniard did not lose his cool and do something crazy.
Costa will be sure to lead the line for Chelsea once again against Sunderland and he will have to keep his temperament at check as Sunderland will most likely look to provoke him as well.
Via – Lineup Builder