Sunderland play Chelsea at the Stadium of Light on Saturday in front of an expected sell out crowd.
The home side take on an in form Chelsea who will have great momentum after denying local rivals Tottenham the title on Monday evening.
Sunderland will also go into the game with extra confidence after snatching a late point against Stoke city last week.
The Black cats will look to get at least a point which would set them up nicely for the game in hand they have at home to Everton next Wednesday. Relegation rivals Newcastle will most likely beat Aston Villa away from home, although as it is Villas’ last home game of the season, they may want to put on a show for the small amount of fans who turn up inside the ground. Not to forget Norwich City, who sit just one point behind Sunderland and two points behind Newcastle. Norwich also with a game in hand, which means they certainly aren’t out the race just yet.
Latest team news and predicted XI’s
Sunderland go into Saturdays game with just one injury doubt after Billy Jones picked up a hip injury earlier in the week. Allardyce hinted he may change the side in his latest interview for the clubs YouTube channel. He said: “We missed a trick with the possession side of thing against Stoke City. We didn’t perform and function as well as we should have done and I will be working on that side of the game to break down a very good Chelsea side.” Maybe a change of formation and or Personnel for the Black Cats?
Although Sam has made comments about potential team changes, I do think the team will remain the same. I think if any team changes were to happen, it may be Watmore for Khazri who hasn’t been brilliant although also hasn’t done a lot wrong. I also think the fact we now have three games remaining, the change of team may have happened earlier to form a consistent lineup.
Chelsea come off the back of Mondays draw with Tottenham, which incidentally gifted the title to Leicester City…Yes I know that still sounds slightly weird, with Thibaut Courtois possibly returning and Eden Hazard likely to start after a stunning late equaliser against Spurs.
So here we are back again for another chapter in the relegation dog fight, this time against Chelsea who unfortunately have hit some form. I really think this match this weekend is going to determine our future in this league. Yes we have the game in hand at home to Everton next week but the reality is we could be relegated that night if results don’t go our way, which they most likely wont. Newcastle play Aston Villa at Villa park and I have been trying to convince myself all week that this is going to be a hard game for Newcastle, but I think its Naive of me to insinuate Aston Villa and their players are going to attempt to gain all three points, especially with the supposed lack of fans who are in attendance. Everyone seems to have written Norwich off and I agree its going to be tough for them to salvage a late survival, but with a win at home to Manchester United tomorrow in the early kick off, it heaps massive pressure on both North East sides to get something from their games. They also have a game in hand on Newcastle.
I agree with Allardyce when he hints at team changes. I think it would be a good idea for us to change the system especially and maybe one or two changes of personnel. The formation works well away from home when we can sit back and defend but it is important to have a real go at Chelsea on Saturday as they are expert at breaking teams down and playing balls in between the lines, even though they haven’t shown it all this season. Jermain Defoe hasn’t scored at home since January and it’s going to be important for us to get him in the game and not isolated against two physical defenders, but at the same time not leave the back door open for Chelsea to score. However, its one thing Allardyce saying he is thinking about team changes and its another thing doing so, in my opinion I don’t think he will change it.
An important factor for Saturday is going to be the bumper crowd expected inside the stadium. It’s going to be massively important for every single person inside the Stadium of light to get right behind the eleven men on that pitch no matter who they are. The next seven days in this relegation story will no doubt have one or two twists left within it. Keep fighting until the end, Ha’way the lads!