It's been quite a day, quite a weekend in football. City spanked Arsenal, then drew Barcelona in the next round of the Champions League. Arsenal fared even worse and ended up with Bayern. Ouch.
Elsewhere, Steve Clarke got fired by West Bromwich Albion (but they're not that kind of club, right?) and Gianfranco Zola resigned from Watford, just seven months after coming to within touching distance of Premier League promotion. Brendan Rodgers is doing fine however - so it's not all doom and gloom for people who've had strong associations with Chelsea Football Club - and when his Liverpool hits top gear, the results can be scary. Just ask Andre Villas-Boas, who was on the wrong end of a 5-0 humiliation at White Hart Lane. Unsurprisingly, AVB got the hook this morning - ok, so it's mostly doom and gloom for people who's had strong associations with Chelsea Football Club - his second in three years in London and the Premier League. Then again, at 18 months, it was his longest tenure as manager of any one club. So... progress?
Amid all the carnage, some football needs to be played. Fortunately it's just the League Cup, so it's not all that important, but with the semifinals on the line tomorrow night, we may as well have a go at it. Plus, Chelsea's second string lineup is hardly poor, which is a good thing since unlike last season, there's a strong chance that it will be mostly big teams that are left standing at the end. Manchester City, United, and Spurs all face winnable contests this week, so the semifinals and finals should be affairs that sponsors dream of. Let's make sure Chelsea are in that mix as well.
Date/Time: Tuesday, December 17, 2013, 19:45 GMT; 2:45pm EST; 1:15am IST (next day)
Venue/Location: Stadium of Light, Sunderland, UK
Forecast: A cold but dry evening somewhere in the north of England...dun dun DUN!
On TV: Sky Sports 1 (UK); beIN Sport (USA); Ten Action, Ten HD (India)
Online: Sky Go, NOW TV (UK); beIN Sport Play (USA)
Sunderland squad news: Since we saw them last, Gus Poyet's men - Gus also (so far) surviving the Walking Chelsea Dead plague - lost to Spurs at home and played out a goalless draw away to West Ham. Their Premier League future is becoming bleaker by the day. Not all hope is lost of course, but they need real victories not moral victories. Any success in the cup would fall firmly in the latter category. That doesn't mean they won't try or that a victory wouldn't boost their morale appropriately, but Chelsea should really be winning this one.
Jack Colback is set to miss the match through illness, while Keiren Westwood and Carlos Cuellar are long-term absentees.
View from the enemy: Roker Report
Chelsea squad news: Presumably they will have practiced some corner and set piece defending ahead of this one. That could prove useful. Branislav Ivanovic's absence won't help in that regard; the big man will miss out after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season on the weekend. The rest of the squad looks in good enough health, although Gary Cahill's fitness is still a bit questionable. If he's fit, he will line up next to David Luiz, Ashley Cole, and Cesar Azpilicueta.
While we don't play again until Monday, this match is a chance to set the squad and the rotation for the busy holiday period (fives games in thirteen days). With that, we should see some of the less often used players; maybe even Kevin De Bruyne! How crazy would that be!?
Previously: That weird 4-3 match from a couple weeks ago was the latest in a decade of wins versus Sunderland: since 2002, Chelsea have gone 17-1 against the Black Cats, the only loss being that head-scratching 0-3 reverse at the Bridge. In the 17 wins, the Blues have scored an average of three goals; I expect them to match that tomorrow.