It's a third home game in a row covering three competitions. There is no squad rotation for club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton as they provide another of their regular match previews…
Can a new manager who has promised strict rules, discipline and work hard whip his new Sunderland players into shape straight away, or will there be a dead (Black) Cat bounce in response to Paolo Di Canio's appointment?
In any case, after the defeat last Saturday (was it really only a week ago?) Chelsea need to up our game against teams from the Premier League's lower reaches.
The loss at Southampton means the Blues have taken just eight points from the 18 available against the sides promoted last May. The Londoners have also lost four times to teams from the bottom half of the table - the same figure as Sunderland, Wigan and West Ham.
We have a fine home record against the Mackems, other than the shock drubbings in 2001 and 2010, averaging more than 3.5 per match at the Bridge since 1997.
Sunderland's newly installed coach won four and lost six of his 12 games as a player against the Pensioners. The last occasion Di Canio visited the Stadium of Light as a West Ham player was in October 2002. He won 1-0 with teammates consisting of Joe Cole, Scott Minto, Ian Pearce plus Jermain Defoe and Michael Carrick.
Fernando Torres's brace in the 3-1 victory over Rubin Kazan means he now has six goals in Europe this season, 18 over seven competitions. Perhaps, with the black mask and rapier-like dispatches reminiscent of a certain Mexican outlaw, we should be calling him Zorres.
Quietly, the 29-year-old Spaniard is out-scoring Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez, Carlos Tevez, Sergio Agüero, Edin Dzeko, Defoe, Christian Benteke, Theo Walcott and Rickie Lambert.
Thursday's team treble against Rubin nudged our goals tally for the current season up to 121 goals, alongside that of 1964/65, our second highest ever.
Most goals in a season
142 in 2009/10
121 in 1964/65 and 2012/13
117 in 1960/61 and 2006/07
112 in 2011/12
110 in 2008/09
A sad note for Chelsea fans: Harry Johnson, producer of the reggae tune our players run out to at Stamford Bridge, 'The Liquidator,' died on Wednesday in Jamaica aged 67.
|The race for the Champions League - Games remaining|
|Chelsea (8)||Arsenal (8)||Tottenham (7)|
|Sunderland (h)||West Brom (a)||Everton (h)|
|Tottenham (h) tba||Norwich (h)||Chelsea (a) tba|
|Fulham (a)||Everton (h)||Man City (h)|
|Liverpool (a)||Fulham (a)||Wigan (a)|
|Swansea (h)||Man Utd (h)||Southampton (h)|
|Man Utd (a)||QPR (a)||Stoke (a)|
|Aston Villa (a)||Wigan (h)||Sunderland (h)|
|Everton (h)||Newcastle (a)|
Our rivals for places two to four in the table face matches of varying difficulty over the next few days. Arsenal are unbeaten at the Hawthorns since 2005, when their former player Kanu was a scorer in a 2-1 Baggies win. The Blues' on-loan Romelu Lukaku has netted three in his two most recent home league games for West Brom.
Everton have won three of their last four encounters with Spurs, whose attacking pace has been clipped by injury blows to Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale on Thursday, on top of the already sidelined Defoe.
Man City travel to Old Trafford on Monday evening. Last season their visit heralded a shift in power in Manchester as they won 6-1 and pulled five points clear at the top, but just 18 months later they lie 15 adrift of their arch-rivals.
Barclays Premier League fixtures
Reading v Southampton 12.45pm Sky Sports
Norwich v Swansea 3pm
Stoke v Aston Villa 3pm
West Brom v Arsenal 3pm
Liverpool v West Ham 1.30pm
Tottenham v Everton 2.05pm ESPN
Chelsea v Sunderland 3pm
Newcastle v Fulham 3pm
QPR v Wigan 4.10pm Sky Sports
Manchester United v Manchester City 8pm Sky Sports
|Barclays Premier League table|
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WE HAVE HISTORY
This match was first played in February 1908 - a 2-1 win with both Chelsea goals coming from Fred Rouse. A little over 16 years ago the Mackems, managed by Peter Reid, arrived at Stamford Bridge to face a Chelsea side (like today's) that had recently qualified for the FA Cup semi-finals.
Sunderland had not won at Stamford Bridge in 40 years and before half-time any hope among the travelling supporters of that sequence ending might have been dashed.
Each side had had a sight of goal when Dennis Wise, magisterial in central midfield, started a move that culminated in Dan Petrescu's pull-back and Gianfranco Zola's goal.
The Italian stylist soon provided a second when his outswinger eluded the visitors' defence and Frank Sinclair headed past Lionel Perez. The two-goal half-time advantage became three early in the second period through Petrescu's alert pounce.
Out of the blue Sunderland revived strongly. Michael Bridges' centre was flicked on and sub Paul Stewart beat Frode Grodas to the ball. Minutes later Alex Rae inspired further hope for the Mackems, stabbing in from close range during a melée.
It was more than 15 minutes before Mark Hughes (pictured below) rampaged into the box and slotted past Perez to increase the advantage. Gianluca Vialli came on for Zola and set up the Blues' fifth for Hughes, before Roberto Di Matteo capitalised on Sunderland's desperation to claw something from the game by breaking away and making it 6-2 to Ruud Gullit's men.
Chelsea have won 15 of our last 16 meetings over the last 11 years. Sunderland's only win was in November 2010 when three goals from Nedum Onuoha, Asamoah Gyan and Danny Welbeck without reply secured the three points at Stamford Bridge.
The 3-0 win by Sunderland in 2010 ended a run of 11 successive Chelsea wins and is only the Mackems second victory in the league at Stamford Bridge in 56 years.
The other occasion was in March 2001 when Sunderland beat Chelsea 4-2 despite the Blues taking the lead twice through Marcel Desailly and Eidur Gudjohnsen. Don Hutchison with two, Gavin McCann and Kevin Phillips scored for the visitors.
The Blues have scored 36 goals in our 11 Premier League meetings at Stamford Bridge.
Our last 10 league meetings at Stamford Bridge
1999/00 - Chelsea won 4-0
2000/01 - Sunderland won 4-2
2001/02 - Chelsea won 4-0
2002/03 - Chelsea won 3-0
2005/06 - Chelsea won 2-0
2007/08 - Chelsea won 2-0
2008/09 - Chelsea won 5-0
2009/10 - Chelsea won 7-2
2010/11 - Sunderland won 3-0
2011/12 - Chelsea won 1-0
The reverse fixture this season
8 December 2012 Premier League
Johnson 65 Torres 11, 45+2 pen
Sunderland v Chelsea in all competitions
Head to head in the League at Stamford Bridge
Games played 55
Chelsea wins 36
Sunderland wins 8
Biggest league win at Stamford Bridge for each team
Chelsea 7-2 Sunderland - 16/01/2010
Chelsea 1-4 Sunderland - 12/03/1910
Visit again tomorrow for part two of the Briefing.