So what does a management and coaching team do when an opposition club changes its manager shortly before a fixture, thereby raising questions on how much that side will change its tactics and personnel from those well-studied during the season?

The answer is quite simple according to assistant first team coach Boudewijn Zenden. The club he played for between 2009 and 2011 are the visitors to Stamford Bridge on Sunday, the first game since Sunderland replaced Martin O'Neill with Paolo Di Canio, but for Chelsea, the preparations will concentrate mostly on us.

'It is going to be completely different,' says Zenden. 'He [Di Canio] is known for the passion he brings to the game and I am sure he will try to transmit that to his players, so you don't know where it is going to go. Therefore we have to focus even more on ourselves. We are on a good run and we want to extend it and it is an exciting time in the season.

'We had a relatively comfortable game against Rubin on Thursday and we are also capable of making a few rotations, so we have some fresh legs coming in on Sunday which is good for the players and the team.'

Despite the Sunderland squad going through a short period of transition since Zenden left, several of his former team-mates remain including their top appearance maker this season, Stephane Sessegnon.

'He is a very explosive player with a dribble and a good shot but the question is can they get him into a position where he can do harm,' notes Zenden. 'But on his day he is definitely a handful.

'I had a good time at Sunderland and had a good understanding with the players. I was club captain as well so I got to see behind the scenes and I was very much involved in everything the club was involved in, all the different charities, and it is a club that is well-structured.

'It is a difficult situation for them because they have some tough games coming up, playing against us and then against Newcastle as well, and it is never nice to see one of your former teams getting into a difficult spell and they have a new manager for that reason - but we have to look after our own situation.'