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EPL Preview: Chelsea look to begin second post-Mourinho era with a win against Sunderland

Photo Courtesy: allomatch.com
Photo Courtesy: allomatch.com

Defending Champions Chelsea start their second post-Jose Mourinho era with a Premier League fixture against a struggling Sunderland side at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea

With Chelsea suffering nine defeats in their opening 16 Premier League fixtures this season, the Blues have made their worst start since the 1978/79 season, when they were relegated from the top flight.

As a result, the Chelsea board saw no choice but to dismiss Mourinho, despite the Portuguese being the most successful manager at Stamford Bridge, helping the Blues win a lot of silverware during his two stints at the West London club.

Mourinho’s exit means that Chelsea will now have to look for a new manager or at least a temporary one until the end of the season. Former Holland boss Guus Hiddink, who had earlier managed the Blues on a temporary basis, after Luiz Felipe Scolari’s dismissal in 2009, is again being considered as the favourite to land the Chelsea job, with there being reports of him discussing a contract at Stamford Bridge.

However, Chelsea will first need to concentrate on their upcoming EPL fixture against Sunderland as another defeat could see them drop into the relegation zone.

Chelsea’s technical director Michael Emenalo has confirmed that the Blues’ coaching staff (probably assistant manager Steve Holland) will be managing the West London side’s next home game against Sunderland.

Although the Blues are expected to beat Sunderland, who are currently sitting in 19th place in the Premier League, they will not be taking this game too lightly as they themselves have not been in the best of forms of late, picking up just three points from their last six EPL fixtures.

Sunderland

The Black Cats have also not been in the best of forms this season, with the Wearside club currently sitting just above the bottom placed Aston Villa in the EPL table.

Following a disappointing 2014/15 campaign that saw them just barely escape relegation, Sunderland were expected to do better under Dick Advocaat this season. However, their performances in the 2015/16 campaign proved to be just as bad, with the Black Cats failing to record a single victory in their opening nine EPL games.

Sunderland have become a little better since the appointment of Sam Allardyce (following Advocaat’s resignation) on 9 October, with the Black Cats managing to record three wins against Newcastle United, Crystal Palace and Stoke City.

However, Sunderland’s results in the Premier League have still not been good enough, with the Wearsiders still struggling to climb out of the relegation zone.

Although the Black Cats are not the favourites against Chelsea on Saturday, they will be hoping to cause another upset at Stamford Bridge, especially now that the Blues are without a manager.

Expected Lineups

Chelsea: Courtois; Ivanovic, Zouma, Terry, Azpilicueta; Fabregas, Matic, Willian, Oscar, Hazard; Costa

Sunderland: Pantilimon; Coates, O’Shea, Kaboul; Yedlin, M’Vila, Toivonen, Van Aanholt; Borini, Defoe, Watmore

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