LONDON (SE) - Two teams in need of a win for very different reasons meet at the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon, when Sunderland host Chelsea.
The Blues are without a victory in seven in the Premier League and have slipped off the pace at the top of the table. Despite interim manager Rafael Benitez seeing his team win 6-1 in the Champions League in midweek, it wasn't enough to keep last season's European Champions in the competition, and defender David Luiz admitted that the exit will come as a blow.
"We are disappointed, big clubs should be playing in big games," said Luiz. "We won the Champions League last season, this time we are out of the group, but it's not a shock, we are fighting with big clubs and the Champions League is not a small competition. Man City came out as well, this is the best competition in the world, so you know you need to work hard in every game to qualify.
"It is sad but football is quick and in two days we have another match against Sunderland, so we need to be ready for the next games, not spend three or four days crying. Saturday is a difficult game and we need to win. Chelsea need to play in the Champions League every year and we have this in our heads."
Sunderland have had a poor start to the season, winning just two of their 14 games to find themselves only a point clear of the relegation zone. Struggling for goals (the Black Cats have scored just five in six home games), the likely loss of star forward Steven Fletcher due to an ankle injury will come as a blow to Sunderland - who are fully aware of how tough a test Saturday's game will be.
"It's definitely a difficult game this weekend, but if we start how we played in the second half at Norwich then we'll give ourselves the best possible chance," said full-back Danny Rose. "Any game against Chelsea is difficult. Their front four can be frightening. I remember watching Spurs play Chelsea and they were quality that day.
"We have make sure we don't give them the space that we gave Norwich in the first half last week. We have to try and exploit Chelsea's weaknesses and look at what we did well in the second half last week."
In addition to Fletcher, Sunderland have fitness doubts over Lee Cattermole and John O'Shea, while Wes Brown remains out with a knee injury. Daniel Sturridge and Frank Lampard are close to comebacks for Chelsea, but John Terry is struggling with a knee problem. The Blues will definitely be without midfielder John Obi Mikel, who was given a three-match ban by the Football Association on Thursday after admitting a charge of using threatening or abusive language towards referee Mark Clattenburg following the 3-2 home defeat by Manchester United in October.
The Black Cats are in dreadful form under Martin O'Neill. They have just one win in their last nine in the league, and have managed only four in their last 27 - a run that stretches back to February. Chelsea have scored only six goals in their last seven games, and have managed just one goal in three games under Benitez. However, striker Fernando Torres scored four in four games for Liverpool against Sunderland, all coming under the management of Benitez.
Chelsea did the double over Sunderland last season, winning 1-0 at Stamford Bridge and 2-1 in the north east. The Blues have picked up three points on their last seven visits to the Stadium of Light, with the home side not tasting victory in this fixture since October 2000.