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Chelsea finally returned to winning ways at Wolves thanks to Frank Lampard’s late decider clinching a first victory in five outings. The Blues are currently fourth in the Premier League standings and 11 points adrift of leaders Manchester City, while they are also eight behind Manchester United and Tottenham. Sunderland’s resurgence under Martin O’Neill continues to pick up pace as three wins from their last four outings has dragged them eight points away from the drop zone and into the top half. The Black Cats have lost half of their games on the road but have won the last two, netting seven goals in the process. The sides’ last three meetings at Stamford Bridge have produced 17 goals, including Sunderland’s 3-0 emphatic win in this fixture last season.
Florent Malouda is doubtful for Chelsea after picking up a knock in Sunday’s FA Cup win over Portsmouth, leaving him unable to train on Wednesday or Thursday. Daniel Sturridge and John Terry have both been passed fit but the game comes a week too soon for Michael Essien (knee), Branislav Ivanovic and John Obi Mikel (both hamstring), while Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou are on African Cup of Nations duty.
Nicklas Bendtner is expected to be available for Sunderland having missed the FA Cup third round victory over Peterborough because of a knee injury. If so, he will be joined in the squad by Fraizer Campbell, who is available for the first time since August 2010 after recovering from a second serious knee problem, but Jack Colback (ankle), Wes Brown (groin) and Titus Bramble (calf/Achilles) remain on the casualty list.
Possible starting XIs:
P Cech • J Bosingwa, D Luiz, J Terry, A Cole • Ramires, O Romeu, F Lampard • D Sturridge, JM Mata • F Torres
S Mignolet • P Bardsley, J O'Shea, M Kilgallon, K Richardson • L Cattermole • S Larsson, C Gardner, D Vaughan, J McClean • N Bendtner