Sunderland Vs Chelsea: Prediction & Preview

It was nice that, the not being bottom thing, yet before another ball is kicked by Sunderland we're back where we started last weekend. In truth, it should have little impact on today's game, which was intimidating even when we were riding high in 19th. Our inability to score away from home makes games like this quite frighteningly important.

by GMac88 Wednesday, 04 December 2013 12:55 PM Comments

It was nice that, the not being bottom thing, yet before another ball is kicked by Sunderland we're back where we started last weekend. In truth, it should have little impact on today's game, which was intimidating even when we were riding high in 19th. Our inability to score away from home makes games like this quite frighteningly important.

In fact, Crystal Palace's win may well play into our hands. Because of this, It's unlikely we will be any further than five points adrift as we travel to Upton Park after our home fixtures even if we do lose both games. If we manage to sneak a win in one of the home games though, it's not beyond the realms of possibility we beat West Ham and hop onto dry land. I make it sound so easy. You'd get canny odds for it happening, let me put it that way.

So what are our chances against the Blues this evening? Speaking purely from the form books, maybe a bit higher than you'd think. As we know, our home form under Gus Poyet has been impeccable, winning every game. Chelsea on the other hand have been very bitty on their travels - although it must be said they have put six past two of our relegation rivals on the road.

The Blues have struggled most against very positive sides. West Brom, Everton and the Mags all set out to attack and reaped the rewards of that. Against those who set up a little less positively (which has effectively been everybody else), they have found little problem in taking a least a point in those games.

It's not great reading for Sunderland fans given our style is generally more-orientated towards defence rather than attack.  If we set out the same system as we have done recently, it's easy to predict an away win. That's not to say I expect us to get bowled over, but playing the same system, in our goal scoring form, I can't see a goal from us, one if we are lucky.

 

Likely line-up:

It would be nice to see Poyet acknowledge Chelsea's vulnerability to assertive, attacking play. With that in mind, I'm going to suggest dropping our best striker - mental me! Steven Fletcher seems a very tired man, or at least a man struggling to tune his positional sense to this new system. I'm not a massive fan, but I'd like to see Jozy Altidore get the nod and for us to be a little more direct. I don't mean lump the ball, by direct I'm referring to our wingers who seem to spend most of their time linking play rather than forcing the issue. Altidore would be more direct and help encourage this.

I think it's imperative that Craig Gardner is dropped if we are to get anything from this game. He is just a poor player, his contribution on Saturday for a centre midfielder was quite embarrassing really. Jack Colback or Lee Cattermole would be the possible replacements - loads of goals and assists in there! I'd actually plump for both and give Ki Sung-Yeung a more advance role which he was so effective in during his Celtic days whilst dropping Seb Larsson.

I'd prefer to see Ondrej Celustka over Andrea Dossena too and with the congested fixture list I think we'll see just that with Phil Barsley moving to left back. John O'Shea is a fitness concern, but I'd expect him to be risked given his astute partnership with Wes Brown. Adam Johnson will probably return to the starting line up, not that we will notice.

Mannone; Celuskta, O'Shea, Brown, Bardsley; Cattermole, Colback, Ki, Johnson, Giaccherini; Altidore

 

Prediction:

I don't think you'll see Chelsea bulldozer us and suspect we will hold our own. However, I expect to be mentioning our gutsy performance and how it means very little in the context of our season - I think we will lose 0-1.