Chelsea play away at Sunderland for the second time this month tonight, knowing a similar result to our league meeting will take us into a January semi-final. It would also make it three wins on the spin in all competitions as the recovery from the league defeat at Stoke continues, and momentum going into the Christmas period has been an important aim.

The games are coming thick and fast but the squad is in good condition and the schedule is of little concern reports assistant first team coach Steve Holland.

'Gary Cahill is very much back in the fold having been rested a little bit with a slight niggle at the weekend, so we are in good shape,' he reports.

'We are very much drilled at Chelsea on playing a match every three days, that seems to be the way it always is. Obviously we do have a busy schedule over Christmas but it is nothing too out of the ordinary, so it really has been very much a case of business as normal this week.'

If Jose Mourinho does opt for team changes for tonight's Capital One Cup quarter-final then it will be with confidence in those coming in, as the coaching staff have been pleased with the contributions made by players who may have been selected less often.

'We get asked do you know what your best team is and we obviously have an idea of that, but it very much depends on the moment and how we perceive the best team now to what we thought a month ago, or what we thought two months before that,' explains Holland.

'It is constantly changing and we have a lot of players where there is very little between them and it is very much down to form at the time. When we rest two of the wingers and bring two new ones in, we are in a very fortunate situation where you can really argue is the team stronger or weaker. So it does allow us to introduce some freshness into the team which is important given the games programme.'

Sunderland might make changes too but in the previous round against Southampton they played a strong selection and Chelsea are preparing for one again.

'In our league game against them a couple of weeks back they had players like Steven Fletcher, Sebastian Larsson and Adam Johnson on the bench so they have a good squad,' says Holland.

'They have some vital Premier League games either side of this one, they drew at West Ham at the weekend and they have Norwich at home this weekend so I am sure their focus will be on Premier League survival, but this is a quarter final and I am sure they will put a strong team out and we are expecting a very difficult game.'

Next on the horizon for Chelsea after tonight's game is the big London derby at Arsenal, and for once the fixture calendar has been relatively kind with that match on Monday evening.

'I don't know what I'll do, I have never had so many days without a Chelsea game before!' smiles Holland. 'So it is a rare opportunity both mentally and physically for us to recharge a bit. It is a good situation for us.'

You can listen to full live commentary of tonight's game on Chelsea TV from 7.45pm.