Sunderland’s opponents on Saturday Chelsea might be the title holders, but they’re not playing like it.
By their high standards they’ve had a nightmare defence of their Premier League crown.
I don’t think their bad form will last, they’ve got to improve soon and I don’t think anyone is foolish enough to write-off the champions.
But there’s no doubt that Chelsea have lost that aura of invincibility which they used to have, especially at home.
Two of Sunderland’s best results in the last 10 years happened at Stamford Bridge – the 3-0 win by Steve Bruce’s team, and then Gus Poyet’s astonishing 2-1 victory in 2014 which inflicted Jose Mourinho’s first home league defeat.
That should give Sunderland some encouragement.
Also, in Chelsea’s last home fixture, they lost to newly-promoted Bournemouth – another reason why Saturday’s game shouldn’t be seen as mission impossible. That defeat wasn’t the only time they’ve under-achieved in front of their own fans this campaign.
The trouble with playing a Chelsea side currently struggling at home is that you just know players like Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas are not going to be out of form forever.
Sooner, rather than later, some team will suffer the backlash.
Sam Allardyce switched his defensive formation during last weekend’s defeat to Watford, but if Younes Kaboul is fit, I expect him to revert back to the three centre-back system.
Jermain Defoe and Adam Johnson didn’t do their chances of a recall any harm when coming off the bench against the Hornets either.
I’m sure Big Sam will be looking at the players very closely this week, as he can’t have been happy with his team’s performance in the last game. He has the options to change things if he feels the need.
This weekend’s game at Chelsea is the first of three fixtures where even our own fans aren’t foreseeing a great deal, but so often Sunderland fail when they’re expected to win and come up with a result when there seems little hope.
But Allardyce has a huge task on his hands if he’s to get any victories from the remainder of December.