Stamford Bridge, London
Sunday, 24th May; 1500 GMT
There will be a party atmosphere at Stamford Bridge on Sunday a and for a change, ita ll be both teams in the same mood, albeit for completely different reasons.
The home side will be officially crowned champions on their own turf for the first time since 2010. Among the presence of many of the players who helped them get the trophy a including players who left in January a and its jubilant fans, Chelsea FC will become the newest holders of the Barclays Premier League trophy a their fifth overall, fourth Premier League crown. The relaxed atmosphere also means that some of the Bluesa youth academy players will be getting a run, with many of their first team unavailable.
The away side, on the other hand, will be celebrating because their Wednesday night draw against Arsenal meant that they are safe from relegation and will live to fight another season in the top tier. Dick Advocaat has done the job he was brought in for and has revived a side looking doomed for the drop. They will also remember this fixture fondly from last season when they managed to end Jose Mourinhoa s 77-match unbeaten streak at home.
Team news and tactics
Probably for the first time this season, Mourinho has such a thin squad to choose from. He will not be complaining though, since he had already promised game time to some academy players who have been the form side in the FA Youth Cup and the UEFA Youth League. PFA, Barclays Premier League and FWA Player of the Year Eden Hazard will sit this match out as he recovers from the loss of his wisdom teeth (not kidding). Oscar and Ramires are also ruled out of contention while Cesc Fabregas is suspended after a bizarre red card in his last outing.
The Blues will be expected to line up in their usual 4-2-3-1 formation but the personnel expected to fill it is as good a guess as any. Petr Cech could potentially play his last match for Chelsea albeit starting from the bench, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek could make his third start in as many games. Andres Christensen and Jeremie Boga a both of whom have had fantastic seasons at the youth level a could be expected to feature at some point during the game. John Terry, who even at the age of 34, has played every minute of every game this season in the league will be raring to start. Hoping to avoid a repeat of last season, the home side will be wary of the threat posed by the visitors and will probably go for the safety-first option of ensuring at least a point.
With both sides having nothing to lose, this could either be a very entertaining affair or a drab, end-of-season like game. The Bluesa faithful, though, will just be waiting for that final whistle to sound, so that the party can well and truly begin.
Possible lineup (4-2-3-1): Courtois (GK), Luis, Terry, Zouma, Ivanovic; Matic, Loftus-Cheek; Willian, Boga, Cuadrado; Remy
Unlike his counterpart, Advocaat has almost a full squad to call upon except for Jordi Gomez and Wes Brown who will definitely miss the game. Liam Bridcutt may return from injury but will probably start from the bench.
Sunderland would be expected to line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with former Swansea striker Danny Graham leading the line. Lee Cattermole along with Seb Larsson will sit in front of the back four which will include former Chelsea man Patrick van Aanholt in the left-back role. Two 0-0 draws in their last two games were more of a tactical necessity than for grinding out a result. However, with nothing to lose in this game, they may go and attack the home side, hoping for a similar result to last season.
The Black Cats come to west London unbeaten in five previous games and clean sheets in the last two. With Mourinho expected to field a rather inexperienced team, and the experienced Dick Advocaat in their corner, the men from the north-east could prove to be a banana skin for Chelsea and spoil the party a much like Crystal Palace did to Steve Gerrarda s farewell at Anfield.
Possible lineup (4-2-3-1): Pantilimon (GK), van Aanholt, Jones, Oa Shea, Coates; Cattermole Larsson; Johnson, Defoe, Wickham; Graham
Player to watch out for
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea)
Two starts in as many games and earmarked by Mourinho himself for a bright future at Stamford Bridge, Loftus-Cheek produced the goods in both the matches he has featured in – including a 100% pass completion rate against Liverpool. The youngster will grow in confidence as he keeps playing matches and with hardly anything on the line this match, it will be a perfect opportunity for him to come to grip with the English game.
- If John Terry plays the full 90 in this match, he will be only the second player to play every minute of the Premier League season after Gary Pallister did it for United in the 1992-93 season.
- Sunderland have kept three clean sheets in their last three games.
- Chelsea have lost only four games in the whole season in all competitions, the latest coming just last weekend at West Brom
- Having completed a treble of awards, Hazard will be looking to wrap up a fourth with the votes for the PFA Fansa Player of The Year closing soon.
Chelsea 1 a 0 Sunderland
All said and done, Chelsea should finish the season on a high, especially after a somewhat embarrassing 3-0 defeat at The Hawthorns. Sunderland will make it tough, but the Chelsea attack should be too strong for the Black Cats.