London (AFP) – Chelsea’s extended victory parade will reach a climax with the trophy presentation when Sunderland arrive at the home of the Premier League champions on Sunday.
Having wrapped up the title with two games to go, Antonio Conte’s side have been able to see out the season in comfort, although Monday’s 4-3 victory over Watford confirmed they were certainly not running down the campaign quietly.
The meeting with a Sunderland side long since condemned to relegation will allow them to sign off in style before the presentation of the Premier League trophy caps off a memorable campaign.
John Terry will collect the silverware in one of his last acts as Chelsea captain before thoughts turn to the FA Cup final against Arsenal as Conte’s side bid to complete the double.
Terry will be leaving the club has been associated with for 22 years at the end of the season and Conte has given a clear sign he expects Gary Cahill to take over the armband next season.
“Gary is our vice-captain this season. He put the armband on every time John didn’t play,” Conte said.
“For sure, Gary has good prospects of being captain, but now it’s important to finish the season.
“To start to think about next season is very dangerous because we have different targets still to reach.”
Terry’s final appearance as a Chelsea player at Stamford Bridge will only add to the emotion on an afternoon of celebration and Conte believes the 36-year-old is fit enough to continue his career elsewhere.
Terry, who scored against Watford, indicated he was unsure whether he would carry on playing or retire.
But Conte said: “John is strong and the moments I have called him to play he has shown this.
“In this point in your career it is important to feel your body and your mind, to feel if you have still the desire and will to fight and to work very hard every day.
“If you feel this then it is right to continue to play. I think John has all of these characteristics.
“John deserves the best. He is a legend for this club and in this season he has been very important to winning this title, and for this reason I have to take my time and make my best decision for him.”
– Chastening –
Sunderland are without 11 senior players through injury as they bring the curtain down on a season to forget.
The Wearside club will return to the Championship after a decade in the Premier League where they have largely been reduced to an annual struggle for top flight survival.
Didier Ndong and Lamine Kone have joined an already lengthy list of absentees in the aftermath of the 2-0 defeat to Arsenal that confirmed they will finish bottom of the table.
Jan Kirchhoff, Paddy McNair and Duncan Watmore are all long-term absentees, but beleaguered manager Moyes is missing a number of other players for the trip to west London.
Steven Pienaar remains unavailable with an ankle problem while George Honeyman is recovering from a back injury and Papy Djilobodji is struggling with a thigh problem.
Sunderland fans travel south fearing the worst for the top versus bottom clash that could bring a chastening end to a dismal season.
“I certainly don’t want us to be embarrassed, that’s for sure. My biggest problem is that we’ve got 11 senior players out injured,” Moyes said.
“We’ll have to put a patchwork team out to try and get a positive performance, because we were obviously up against opposition of a much higher level than us.”