Premier League Preview: Chelsea – Sunderland

Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas will not be able to select strikers Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou for this clash, with the Cote d’Iviore internationals having left to participate in the African Cup of Nations.

Meanwhile, Michael Essien was is reported to be making progress in his return from an anterior cruciate ligament injury, but is thought to be about a week away from fitness. Branislav Ivanovic and John Obi Mikel (both hamstring) are also sidelined for this clash.

Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill has Marcos Angeleri (knee) sidelined for this fixture, with Titus Bramble (Achilles) and Fraizer Campbell (knee) joining him in the treatment room.

Wes Brown sustained a groin injury during the victory over Manchester City and is a doubt for this game. Craig Gordon is reported to have returned to action for the reserve side, but this clash could be a little early for a return.

  • The Blues have lost only one of their last 15 league meetings with Sunderland. But this defeat came in 2010, when the Black Cats triumphed with a 3-0 score line at Stamford Bridge.
  • The Blues have not been able to keep a clean sheet in their last six games in the top-flight.
  • Andre Villas-Boas’ men have also won only two of their last six Premier League matches at Stamford Bridge.
  • Sunderland have managed to score a total of 168 goals against the Blues throughout the course of their history. But they have also conceded 197 in the process.
  • Martin O’Neill’s men are on an unbeaten run of five matches in all competitions, registering four wins.
  • The Black Cats have beaten Saturday’s opponents only eight times in the league in 54 games away from home.
  • If all matches ended at half-time, the visitors would have slipped two places to 12th in the standings.
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