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Chelsea vs Sunderland: Premier League Preview

Chelsea vs Sunderland

Gus Poyet returns to former club Chelsea on Saturday hoping Sunderland can build on Wednesday's morale-boosting 2-2 draw at Manchester City.

The Uruguayan spent four years at Stamford Bridge between 1997 and 2001, and became a cult hero for his rampaging runs and goalscoring exploits from midfield.

Sunderland did Jose Mourinho's Chelsea a huge favour in the title race by holding City at the Etihad Stadium in midweek, with the Premier League's bottom club only denied a crucial three points two minutes from time when a Samir Nasri effort squirmed past keeper Vito Mannone.

Head coach Poyet was encouraged by his side's showing in Manchester, which halted a run of five straight defeats, and hopes it will give them a boost heading into this weekend.

"It was an excellent performance by us against City," he said. "It's the sort of performance which is going to give us that word that I absolutely hate - which is 'confidence'.

"I don't like using that word that, but it is true. Given as well as we played against City, it will give us a bit of hope against Chelsea this weekend.

"I think now the players will believe they might get something."

Despite Wednesday's hard-earned draw, Sunderland remain rooted to the foot of the table, six points from safety with five games remaining.

And Poyet will expect no goodwill from his former employers at the weekend, with Chelsea embroiled in a three-way fight for the title along with Liverpool and City.

Mourinho's team can crank up the pressure on leaders Liverpool with a win, as that would take them top of the table for at least a day with Liverpool visiting Norwich City on Sunday.

After surprise defeats to Aston Villa and Crystal Palace in recent weeks, Chelsea have recovered well, recording victories over Stoke City and Swansea City in their last two outings.

With four games to go, and a potential title decider at Anfield next weekend, Mourinho knows his side can ill-afford any more slip-ups if they are to claim a fourth Premier League crown.

Chelsea's Eden Hazard may miss out again, after he was sidelined for the trip to Swansea following his withdrawal in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final against Paris-Saint Germain due to a calf problem.

For Sunderland, Phil Bardsley (suspended) and Ki Sung-Yueng (tendonitis) are both definitely out.

Midfielder Liam Bridcutt was absent from the draw at the Etihad due to personal reasons, while Steven Fletcher (ankle) and Carlos Cuellar (knock) remain doubtful.

 

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