Sunderland v Chelsea: Johnson eyes next major scalp
Jose Mourinho's league leaders boast an imposing record of 10 wins from 12 unbeaten league matches this season as they prepare to face a team that dealt a body blow to their title aspirations last term.
Fighting a seemingly improbable yet ultimately successful battle against relegation, Sunderland came from behind to snatch a 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge in April and end Mourinho's remarkable record of 77 Premier League home matches without defeat across his two spells in west London.
Champions Manchester City follow Chelsea to the north east having lost 1-0 on each of their previous four visits to Sunderland and Johnson is relishing an electric atmosphere under the floodlights on Wearside over the coming week.
"Evening winter matches in the Premier League are always special," he told Sunderland's official website.
"There is always a little extra in them and it is great to play at night at the Stadium of Light, especially against the teams at the top of the league.
"It’s going to be a difficult game against Chelsea but we've been strong and we have always done well against the big teams, so hopefully that will continue.
"We got massive wins against the top teams last season when we needed them, so if we can carry that momentum and pick up points it would be great for us."
Sunderland head coach Gus Poyet could be boosted by the return of Ricky Alvarez and Sebastian Coates as they continue to build their fitness following respective knee and thigh injuries.
Coates was named in the squad for last weekend's goalless draw at Leicester City and Poyet concedes it has been a frustrating time for the South American duo since moving to Sunderland during the close season.
"Ricky trained on Tuesday, which is great for us, and he is desperate to play because that type of player cannot see himself outside, so he suffers when he cannot train and sees the team playing," the former Chelsea player told Sunderland's official website.
"It has been terrible for Sebastian because he has come into a new club as a Uruguayan with a Uruguayan manager, so there is always a kind of double responsibility."
Chelsea took their imperious form to the continent on Wednesday night, thumping Schalke 5-0 in the UEFA Champions League.
Top scorer Diego Costa took a knock to the leg and was substituted after 66 minutes in Gelsenkirchen but is expected to face Sunderland.
Midfielder Cesc Fabregas has matched Costa's impact at Stamford Bridge since the pair's high-profile moves from La Liga and the ex-Arsenal and Barcelona man believes the variety and quality in Chelsea's play at the moment is central to their success.
Fabregas told the club's official website: "The most important thing is we know what we are doing - when we can defend, when we have to attack, when we have to slow the pace and go quicker. Right now we are doing that very well."