If the Premier League were a highway, both Sunderland and Chelsea would be driving the wrong way into oncoming traffic.
Between the two clubs, only one of them—Sunderland—has managed a victory in their past five EPL matches, a 3-1 victory over Fulham on November 18.
The Black Cats have posted a 1-1-3 record over that stretch, most recently losing 2-1 to Norwich on December 2. They currently sit 17th in the table with 13 points, one spot ahead of relegation.
Chelsea, fresh off of a 6-1 victory over FC Nordsjaelland in Champions League play on December 5—a victory that wasn't enough to stave off elimination—has gone 0-3-2 in their last five EPL matches.
Despite squandering a 1-0 first half lead to West Ham United and dropping the match by a score of 3-1 in their most recent EPL clash on December 1, the Blues sit in third place in the table with 26 points.
Let's take a look at all the pertinent information for Saturday's match and see if we can't figure out which club will be able to turn things around.
Where: Stadium of Light in Sunderland, England
When: Saturday, December 8 at 10 a.m. ET
Watch: ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes
Live Stream: ESPN3.com
— Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) December 7, 2012
Benitez reports Daniel Sturridge will not be in the squad for Sunderland. #CFC— Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) December 7, 2012
While Rafa Benitez doesn't expect Lampard to start for the Blues, per the team's official website, there's no denying that the return of the 34-year-old midfielder's return to the pitch will be a welcome sight for the struggling club.
Oft-maligned striker Fernando Torres scored twice in their final CL match this past Wednesday, his first goals since opening the scoring in their CL contest against Shakhtar Donetsk on November 7.
If the dynamic 28-year-old goal scorer can continue that level of play against the Black Cats, proving that he has returned to form, it will go a long way towards turning things around for the Blues.
Every point counts for Sunderland, who is desperately trying to avoid falling into relegation. With only a one-point advantage over 18th place Southampton as the halfway point of the season arrives, there is no room for the Black Cats to breathe easy.
Forward Steven Fletcher, Sunderland's most reliable player (and leading goal scorer), looks to be a game-time decision, according to Scott Wilson of the Northern Echo:
If Fletcher can go, the Black Cats will at least have a chance of hanging with the Blues. If not, this one could get out of hand rather quickly.
Chelsea is unquestionably the more talented team. With or without Fletcher on the pitch for the Black Cats, the Blues will pick up all three points in this one.
Prediction: Chelsea 3, Sunderland 1