Ellis Short, Sam Allardyce, the players and the fans all know that it’s a must not lose game. A loss could all but seal their fate if Newcastle United are to win.
Allardyce’s men are dangerously close to relegation, but what did we learn from their last outing with Chelsea that they can take into Saturday's game?
Must be alert from the the whistle
Sunderland must be alert for the entirety of the game. At Stamford Bridge, Branislav Ivanovic headed Chelsea into the lead just five minutes after kick-off and with Sunderland having only won one game from a losing position this season, conceding first proved fatal.
The Black Cats cannot afford to concede so early in the game. That goal put Chelsea on the way and with Pedro doubling their lead shortly before half-time, victory was all but sealed for the hosts.
Jack Rodwell and Ola Toivonen offered nothing for Sunderland in midfield in the reverse of this game and, though it is likely that neither of the pair will start, Big Sam must get his selection spot on. Rodwell was anonymous, with his potential having been stripped away by injury and Toivonen was poor throughout before being hauled off during the break.
Toivonen’s replacement, Fabio Borini, showed a glimmer of hope for Sunderland and pulled one back. The consolation goal shows that Allardyce’s men are capable of breaking Chelsea down and, if given an opportunity, they can punish them. Borini will be disappointed in his returning season but the Italian can definitely make amends on Saturday.
In the 3-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge, the Black Cats had an agonising lack of pace at the back between Younes Kaboul, John O’Shea and Sebastian Coates. Kaboul, who normally offers pace at the back, delivered a below par performance, something that will be unacceptable at the weekend.
Lamine Kone and Kaboul are likely to be Allardyce’s choice for the centre-back pairing tomorrow, and the duo have performed well recently, keeping a number of clean sheets. They must continue that on Saturday. If Sunderland don’t concede, then they don’t lose; it’s as simple as that.
Chelsea have been anything but spectacular this season, and in the past, Sunderland have proved they can beat the big boys. A point or three, isn’t an impossible task for Allardyce and his squad.