Saturday afternoon sees Chelsea travel north to Sunderland, a game that that thrilled fans and neutrals alike last season, ending in a 3-4 win for the visitors, Eden Hazard scoring twice to lead the Blues to victory, having initially been behind to the Black Cats.
To see how Chelsea fans may be thinking about this game, we looked at the Beat Your Manager! Fantasy Football data from this fixture last season, to see what players were picked for the lineup.
Beat Your Manager! Fantasy Football is a game similar to “Football Manager”, but applied to live football, where you manage your favourite Club and pick lineups, bench, formations and substitutions, all in real-time. When fans play the game, the Beat Your Manager team can measure the popularity of different players, by looking at how frequently they are selected for the starting lineup, substitutes bench or not selected at all.
The app ran for the 2013/4 EPL season and is currently inactive while the developers are creating the revised version – we’ll keep you posted on when it’s going to re-launch.
Formation: A solid 4-4-2 the choice for Chelsea fans
36 per cent Chelsea fans opted for a solid 4-4-2 formation for this game, with the next-most popular formation a flexible double-pivot 4-2-3-1 (23 per cent), with an attacking 4-3-3 in 3rd place, selected by 18 per cent of fans.
Goalkeeper: Cech the only choice for CFC fans
Petr Cech got a perfect 100 per cent score with Blues fans for this game, making him jointly Chelsea’s most popular player. Mourinho agreed with the fans, Cech starting the game between the posts.
Defence: Mourinho’s back four likely to be repeated
With David Luiz injured, Chelsea fans had four clear favourites in defence. John Terry was Chelsea’s most popular midfielder for this game, selected by every Blues fan for the lineup, making him jointly (with Cech) the club’s most popular player for this match.
Gary Cahill was just slightly behind Terry, on 95 per cent, with Branislav Ivanović and Ashley Cole next in line with fans, both on an 82 per cent rating.
Blues gaffer Jose Mourinho agreed with the fans on Terry, Cahill and Ivanović, but fielded César Azpilicueta (36 per cent fan rating) instead of Cole.
Midfield: Three clear choices in midfield; last spot not so much
With Oscar out injured, Chelsea’s most popular midfielder for this game last season was Frank Lampard, his 91 per cent rating from fans making him the club’s 4th-most popular player for this match.
The next two midfielders were Ramires (86 per cent) and Juan Mata (82 per cent), both close behind in the popularity stakes with fans. However, after these two, approval ratings dropped away sharply, with the fourth spot taken by John Obi Mikel, on a below-average 45 per cent fan rating.
Mourinho agreed with fans on the first three midfielders, but started Willian (27 per cent fan rating) instead of Mikel, although he did bring on Mikel for Mata inside the last 10 minutes.
The departure of Frank Lampard to Man City means that Mourinho’s options are more limited this year, although Cesc Fabregas is back, fully match fit for this game.
Forwards: Perfect harmony between fans and manager
Eden Hazard was Chelsea’s most popular forward for this game, his 82 per cent rating making him jointly (with Mata) the club’s 6th-most popular player. Mourinho also included Hazard in the lineup and the Belgian duly rewarded both fans and manager with sublime goals, one in either half to help secure the three points.
Mourinho also fielded the fans’ second choice upfront, Fernando Torres, who scored a reasonable 68 per cent popularity rating with fans, although he yet again failed to get his name on the scoresheet.
As Torres is now at AC Milan he will miss this fixture, while Diego Costa is expected to make an impact and Loic Remy can also be expected to feature.
Fan-selected lineup, bench, not selected ratings Sunderland v Chelsea 2013/4 EPL Season: