Chelsea FC is coming off of a phenomenal comeback victory against a Southampton side that took the lead in the first 14 seconds. Jose Mourinho’s tactics were hailed as the key to a second half in which the Blues scored three unanswered goals.
Tactics will again be key as Chelsea travel to Sunderland only four days after their last outing. This time squad rotation will take center stage.
Due to the quick turnover in fixtures, it will be safe to assume that there will be a good number of changes to last Sunday’s side. Of all the players, Juan Mata has definitely earned himself another start. The midfielder exhibited the form of a regular starter, not of a bench warmer. He played a significant role in two of the three goals while directly assisting the second one.
Don’t be surprised if Andre Schurrle and Willian get the start in place of Oscar, who left last game injured, and Eden Hazard.
Ramires seems to be ever-present in Mourinho’s lineups this season and will most likely start alongside John Obi Mikel or Frank Lampard. It would be safe to assume that Michael Essien will start the game on the bench after a horrid opening 14 seconds that led to Southampton’s only goal.
With David Luiz still recovering from a knee injury, the back line will look basically the same. Whether Ashley Cole gets a run-out at left back will depend on Cesar Azpilicueta’s match fitness.
As for the forward position, it is unlikely that Mourinho will start the game with two strikers the way he ended the last one. While Demba Ba coolly slotted in Chelsea’s third goal against the Saints, a healthy Fernando Torres will almost always get the nod.
Sunderland is much maligned, only managing a paltry eight points in 13 games and a 19th place spot coming into this match. The Blues best them in just about every important statistic. Also, they do not press as well as Southampton, which may see Mourinho opt for an attack oriented 4-3-3 formation.
As Hull City proved last Sunday against Liverpool, no team can be slept on. Mourinho will know that and will look to quickly correct early mishaps. Don’t look for Chelsea to start slow in this one.