Premier League preview: Chelsea host Sunderland at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea continue their title bid as they host Sunderland at Stamford Bridge in Saturday Night Football.
Last Updated: 22/04/14 8:11pm
Chelsea could return to the Premier League summit and thwart Sunderland's bid to avoid relegation when they meet at Stamford Bridge in Saturday Night Football.
Jose Mourinho's side remain within striking distance of Liverpool at the head of the table following their 1-0 victory over Swansea last Sunday, courtesy of Demba Ba's second goal in as many games.
Since losing to Crystal Palace, Chelsea have gone on to record back-to-back top-flight victories to remain within two points of the league leaders.
The Blues face a potential Premier League-deciding trip to Anfield next weekend and can ill-afford a slip-up against foot-of-the-table Sunderland.
Despite vehemently ruling his side out of the title race, the equation is simple for Mourinho; win all their remaining fixtures and Chelsea will be Premier League champions.
Former Chelsea playmaker Gus Poyet, now Black Cats manager, can expect no aid from his old employers, who are unbeaten in 77 home games under Mourinho.
However, the hosts will be wary of the threat posed by Sunderland, who snatched an unlikely against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium in midweek.
A Connor Wickham brace gave the Black Cats the advantage at Eastlands after Fernandinho's early strike, but a late Samir Nasri equaliser ensured the spoils were shared and left Sunderland six points adrift of safety.
Although they managed to stun City during the week, Sunderland's form has been wretched of late, losing seven of their last eight prior to their visit to Manchester.
With Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford their next away destinations, Poyet will be desperate for a turnaround to avoid the drop.
Paul Merson's predictions
I think it's a big advantage for Chelsea playing first. If Chelsea win they go top which is a psychological blow to Liverpool. Sunderland have to win, a draw isn't any good. They're a bag of Revels. One minute they're alright - they were unlucky at Man City - then you watch them at Tottenham. They're not going to Chelsea and scoring two goals.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-0Chelsea manager Mourinho will be without Eden Hazard for Saturday's clash with Sunderland and the Belgium playmaker remains a doubt for the Champions League trip to face Atletico Madrid.
It is unclear, though, whether Ba will be given the chance to build on his two match-winning goals, or be rested for the trip to Spain, with Samuel Eto'o, who has been preferred in home games this term, recalled.
Due to Branislav Ivanovic's continental suspension, Ashley Cole will be required against Atletico and Mourinho may see the visit of Sunderland as an opportunity to give the out-of-favour left-back a run out.
Sunderland boss Poyet has suspensions and injuries to contend with ahead of their trip to Stamford Bridge.
First-team regular Phil Bardsley continues to serve a ban and so Santiago Vergini will be retained at right-back, should Carlos Cuellar not pass a late fitness test on a muscle strain.
Ki Sung-Yueng, Steven Fletcher and Keiren Westwood remain sidelined so Jack Colback, who along with Bardsley has been tipped to leave the Stadium of Light in the summer, should start again in midfield.