Seven months ago, Sunderland came to the Bridge as invited guests to our Premier League title-winning party. Now they come for a relegation six-pointer, in the first match of the second post-Mourinho era. Unlike the first one, it seems the squad is in need of a major rebuild (again), rather than being set up for a half-decade of success. Whoever will be in charge of that will have his work cut out for him, especially with the likely prospect of no Champions League football.
In more immediate concerns, Chelsea desperately need three points. Especially these three points, which would come at the expense of one of the few teams below us in the table. Whoever Steve Holland and Eddie Newton will select to start will need to prove to us that it was indeed the manager holding them back. Even if the stadium voices their disapproval of the events of the past couple days.
Date / Time: Saturday, December 19, 2015, 15:00 GMT; 10am EST; 8:30pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Roger East — Good omens with Mr. East in charge. Last time we saw him, we actually won a game! (2-0 vs. Aston Villa at the Bridge.)
Forecast: Looking nothing like winter, with "exceptionally" mild temperatures predicted for our last match before the holidays.
On TV: none (UK); NBCSN, NBC Universo (USA); Star Sports 2 / HD 2 (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: talkSport, Chelsea TV (audio-only; int'l); NBC Sports Live Extra, NBC Deportes En Vivo Extra (USA); Star Sports (India)
Chelsea team news: With the pre-match press conference canceled on account of not having a manager, there's been no injury updates or hints towards team selection since earlier this week when Mourinho called out "some" of the players for not following instructions and replicating what they learned and talked about on the training ground in the actual match. Whom the caretaker squad custodians will choose to start is anyone's guess.
Presumably, Radamel Falcao is still sidelined with whatever injury's been affecting him all this time. More importantly, Eden Hazard's hip problem, acquired via Jamie Vardy's magic leg, was severe enough to cause him to not only miss most of Monday's match but midweek training as well. There were reports of optimism for Hazard's availability this weekend, but we won't know until game time.
Rather unbelievably, Chelsea have lost 4 of our last 7 home matches in the Premier League. Mourinho or no Mourinho, this atrocity must stop.
Sunderland team news: The Black Cats have won just one match away from home all season, and have just 3 wins in the Premier League to sit second from bottom above only the entirely useless Aston Villa side. Surely, we can win this one, yes?
Sam Allardyce's side will be without fairly annoying Seb Larsson and supremely annoying Lee Cattermole, so we've got that going for us, too. He will be able to count on former Chelsea trainees Patrick van Aanholt and Fabio Borini, at least one of whom has revenge on his mind. All the rest will no doubt fancy their chances to stealing three points from the wounded Blues.
Previously: We were happy once.