|Oh no, not again....|
Every moment that elapses taking me closer to this game, I'm getting increasingly sick with memories. In 2011, when Carlo Ancelotti was our manager, an extremely young, fast and vibrant Sunderland team visited the Bridge. Right after we had conceded the first goal, I realised that I was burning hot with fever. By half-time it worsened, and the last thing I remember was Sunderland scoring their second. I had fainted. Thankfully, dad noticed and next morning I woke up in the hospital, diagnosed with dengue, that left me bedridden for weeks. The worse news was that Sunderland had beaten us 3-0.
It's that time of the year where teams either provide a final push to a better position in the table, or battle against the odds to avoid relegation. Sunderland are a club desiring to avoid relegation. They even fired Martin O'Neill, the manager much liked by their fans, to bring in publicly much-maligned Paolo Di Canio, a person who is, currently, very much the eye of an embroiling media storm, of course for totally non-footballing reasons. Well, since when did the British media criticised someone for any footballing reason, whatsoever?
Paolo Di Canio, the former Swindon
For Chelsea, this is their 4th game in nine days, in which, they won both the games in which a stumble might have been understandable and ridiculously lost the one which you didn't expect them to lose. But hey, that's Chelsea under the Rafalution ! Beating the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal is no big deal, but getting the better of relegation fodder like QPR, Southampton etc. is too demanding a task. Therefore, I won't be relaxing much and counting the points before we win, as with Chelsea, anything is possible.
Sunderland have been in miserable form lately, drawing two and losing the rest of their last six. I expect Di Canio to whip his team's arse in true Italian style and fill them up with some grit. So this, by all means, could become an actual contest, rather than the seemingly runaway victory for Chelsea.
TEAM NEWS :
After starting Thursday's game on the bench, all of Eden Hazard, Oscar and John Obi Mikel should expect to be back in the starting 11, which also should feature Demba Ba, who is ineligible for the Europa League. It won't be a huge surprise for me if Torres is given a start instead of Ba given that he's in a rich vein of form following two goals and excellent overall play against Rubin Kazan.
Meanwhile, Sunderland are missing top scorer Fletcher and red-card magnet Cattermole to long-term injuries, first choice center back pairing of Wes Brown and Carlos Cuellar, and David Vaughan are both expected to not to make this trip. Connor Wickham, is contention for a start following Danny Graham's impressive Torres impression in the goal-scoring charts since joining Sunderland.
TV TIMINGS :
All those in the US and the UK expecting to watch this game on TV are in for some bad news as sadly there's no telecast in either. Meanwhile, ESPN carry this game in India on TV.
Kick-off details : April 7, Sunday, 15:00 GMT, 07:30 IST, 10:00 EST.
Hoping for a Chelsea win sans much drama, but never rule drama, controversy and a debacle out, as THIS IS CHELSEA !!!