SOCCER UPDATESS – Blues boss Rafael Benitez is poised to make a host of changes from the starting XI which beat Rubin Kazan 3-1 in the Europa League on Thursday. Defensive duo Gary Cahill (knee) and Ashley Cole (hamstring) both remain sidelined.

John Obi Mikel, Eden Hazard and Oscar could all be recalled, while Demba Ba may replace Fernando Torres up front, despite the Spaniard scoring against the Russian side. Long-term injury absentee Oriol Romeu (knee) remains out injured.

As for the Black Cats, Paulo Di Canio will be without influential duo Lee Cattermole (knee) and Steven Fletcher (ankle) for the remainder of the season. Sebastian Larsson is likely to be handed a starting berth.

Upfront, Connor Wickham is pushing Danny Graham for a starting spot. However, defensive pair Wes Brown (knee) and Carlos Cuellar (ankle) are both still unavailable.

DID YOU KNOW ?

  • Chelsea have the joint-second best goalscoring record in the Premier League this season alongside Liverpool and Arsenal with 59 goals each. Only Manchester United (70) have netted more.
  • Blues playmaker Juan Mata , is the club’s leading scorer in all competitions so far this season with 18 goals.

    Juan Mata

    Juan Mata

  • Sunderland have only taken two points from their last six league matches – a 2-2 draw against Fulham and a 1-1 draw against Norwich.
  • Paolo Di Canio was named 2012’s LMA League Two Manager of the Year during his spell in charge of Swindon Town.
  • Chelsea won the earlier meeting in the season between the two sides 3-1. A brace from Fernando Torres and a goal from Mata put them into a three-goal lead, before Adam Johnson scored.
  • Black Cats midfielder Craig Gardner has received the joint-most yellow cards in the league so far this season alongside Liverpool’s Luis Suarez and Aston Villa’s Matthew Lowton. All three players have been booked nine times.
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