Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has admitted that the next two months could decide which teams go on to fight for the Premier League title and who will fall by the wayside.
Mourinho takes his side to Sunderland tomorrow as the Blues look to build on their impressive second half performance in the 3-1 win over Southampton on Sunday, although the Portuguese has confirmed that he remains without David Luiz and Oscar through injury.
He did however confirm that out-of-favour left-back Ashley Cole will start either the midweek match or next week’s final Champions League group game against Steuau Bucharest, having spoken of the need to rotate his starting line-up following the defeat to Basle last week.
“David Luiz is not back in training yet, he's still with the medical department. I hope to have him back soon so I can rotate,” said Mourinho.
“Ashley Cole will start one of these next two games, or against Steaua. Professionally he's a team player so he deserves to play."
Samuel Eto'o could play some part in the fixture after recovering from a groin injury, although the impressive partnership between Fernando Torres and Demba Ba last time out could keep the Cameroonian striker out of the team.
“There is a lot to play for in December and January, we will see if one of the top six opens a real gap (at the top)," Mourinho continued.
“We can't speak about favourites but all the six teams are title contenders.
“In my career I've only finished first and second and if I'm not there I don't feel comfortable.
“There is still a lot of progress to be made, we need to make the pressure of fighting for the title natural.”
Chesea sit second in the Premier League table, four points behind London rivals Arsenal, and Mourinho knows that a win tomorrow could close that gap to just one point should the Gunners slip-up as they host Hull on Wednesday evening.