Chelsea resume their league campaign at Stamford Bridge against Sunderland this afternoon. It’s been 19 days since our last league action but nonetheless Chelsea are still one point clear at the top of the table, albeit still with a game in hand over Manchester United.
Drogba, Kalou, Mikel and Essien are all still away on international duty, whilst Deco and Jose Bosingwa are still injured. It could mean more action for the likes of Juliano Belletti, whose versatility is proving very useful right now, as well as the young star Gael Kakuta. Nicolas Anelka is fit again and could possibly start, either alone up front in a 4-3-2-1 or alongside Daniel Sturridge. Fabio Borini should figure from the bench.
Sunderland are missing the combative Lee Catermole, as well as the creative Andy Reid. Former Blue Boudewijn Zenden will also miss the match, as well as Craig Gordon, so Martin Fulop will continue in goal. Darren Bent is their leading scorer this season with 14 goals, all in the league.
Sunderland have a fantastic record against the big four this season, having beaten Liverpool and Arsenal and drawing with Manchester United at Old Trafford. Chelsea did beat them at the Stadium of Light though, Ballack, Lampard and Deco the scorers.
The visitors are looking for their first win in eight league games and have picked up just three points from the last seven games. By contrast, Chelsea have kept the most clean sheets in the league this season and will be difficult to break down at home.
Ladbrokes are offering 2/9 on the more than likely home win, whilst the draw is paying a healthy 5/1. The unlikelihood of a Sunderland victory is reflected in the 12/1 on offer for the away win.