Six points ahead of second place, eight points ahead of our biggest rival, 19 unbeaten (21 if you include the end of last season), 12 unbeaten in the Premier League (15 if you include the end of last season), breaking records left and right -- all the while playing glorious football -- the question becoming more and more urgent with every passing game is just how long the Blues can keep all this up. One more game? One more week? One more, one more until the end of the season?
At this point, any loss will be a shock. Our hardest domestic fixtures have come and gone without defeat. Our hardest European fixtures won't arrive until the spring. Chelsea should not be losing any of our upcoming games. Eventually, a loss will come in all of its inconceivable, heartburn-inducing, maddening glory. And day shall turn to night, skies shall fall, and we'll realize that winter was here all along.
Is that loss coming today? I, for one, am not ready to be disappointed yet. If nothing else, I'd like us to avenge last season's double disappointment in the League Cup and especially at home in the league. A universe where Sunderland is our bogey team sounds like a silly place. Let's not go to there.
Date / Time: Saturday, November 29, 2014, 17:30 GMT; 12:30pm EST; 11pm IST
Venue: Stadium of Light, Sunderland, England
Referee: Kevin Friend - we've already seen Mr. Friend once this season, the 4-2 win against Swansea City at the Bridge, notable mostly for Diego Costa's hat trick. Also notable: the Bite game against Liverpool and the Community Shield against Manchester City (with Branislav Ivanovic's red card). Despite those unsavory incidents, Chelsea have lost just 2 of the 10 matches refereed by Mr. Friend, and have now gone five straight unbeaten with three wins.
Forecast: Early morning fog, mist, and light rain should give way to drier, brighter weather as the day rolls along
On TV: Sky Sports 1 (UK); NBC (USA); Star Sports 4 / HD 1 (India); elsewhere
Online: Sky Go (UK); NBC Sports Live Extra (USA); Star Sports (India)
Sunderland Team News: The Black Cats will be one Chelsea connection short for this one with Patrick van Aanholt ruled out thanks to a dislocated shoulder. Emanuele Giaccherini and Billy Jones are also set to miss out, but World Cup runner-up Ricky Alvarez (on loan from Internazionale) might finally be healthy.
Sunderland have just three losses on the season, which is one more than Manchester City and exactly as many as Arsenal or Manchester United. Unfortunately, Sunderland also have just two wins, which is joint-worst in the Premier League. They've drawn over 50% of their games, which, frankly, is ridiculous, and consequently leaves them three points above the relegation zone.
However, outside of the 8-0 tonking suffered at the hands of Southampton, Gus Poyet's men have proven to be a solid, steady, if offensively stunted team. They are undefeated in their last three in the league.
Chelsea Team News: Diego Costa had apparently picked up a knock midweek but has been ruled none worse for the wear and should be ready to lead the line once again. Nathan Aké remains out with a hamstring injury.
With matches against Spurs, Newcastle, Sporting, Hull City, Derby County, Stoke, etc. coming up over the next several weeks, Chelsea are entering a bit of a grind. The days will be cold and short, motivation may run a bit low. It's time to bear down and put the league out of sight by the new year.
Previously: This will the 120th meeting all time between the two sides, but the first one since 2001 that's coming on the heels of back-to-back Chelsea losses. The Blues lead the overall series 57 wins to 41. Eden Hazard sure had fun the last time we won here: