Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Sunderland

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  • The Blues sit one point above relegation
  • Chelsea have won 18 of the last 21 vs. Sunderland
  • Sunderland have conceded 21 away goals (tops in PL)

It feels strange saying this, but Saturday’s match at Stamford Bridge pits two teams fighting a relegation battle towards the bottom of the table (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).

The last time these two sides met was in May, as Chelsea lifted the trophy as Premier League champions after defeating Sunderland 3-1 at Stamford Bridge. Oh how the times have changed.

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Chelsea begins life without Jose Mourinho, as the Portuguese manager was sacked on Thursday as the Blues’ dismal start to the season carried on for too long. With just 15 points through 16 matches, Chelsea is off to their worst start since 1978-79, a season in which the club was relegated.

Assistant coach Steve Holland will manage the team on Saturday before a full-time replacement is named, expected to be Guus Hiddink. In team news, Eden Hazard is doubtful to play after suffering a hip injury against Leicester.

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Sunderland’s struggles haven’t come as a surprise, as the Black Cats are one of the few teams that sit below Chelsea. After winning back-to-back matches to climb out of the bottom three, Big Sam’s side has now lost consecutive matches to fall back into it. They may also be forced to play without center-back Sebastian Coates, who has missed some training with illness this week.

What they’re saying

Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo on Mourinho’s firing: “While there is a huge sentiment for the individual who has done so much for the club, the fact of the matter remains that Chelsea Football Club is in trouble. The results are not good. There obviously seems to be a palpable discord between manager and players, and we feel it was time to act.”

Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce: “Everybody expects a reaction when a manager gets sacked, and sometimes there is and sometimes there isn’t. It’s fair to say that if we were to win, it would put a huge amount of pressure on Chelsea because we’d end up on 15 points, the same as they are.”

Prediction

Saturday’s match is about pride, which frankly, Chelsea has shown little of this season. However, it seems as if Mourinho had lost the dressing room, and the players will look to prove they still have what it takes to compete. Chelsea 2-0 Sunderland.