Premier League leaders travel to Sunderland in a hope to extend their lead at the top of the pile. Matt Tye reports.
Premier League strugglers Sunderland hosted table-toppers Chelsea on Saturday evening. In the last meeting of these two sides, Sunderland ended Mourinho’s 77 game unbeaten home record at Chelsea, which began during his first spell at the club. Sunderland came into this game after a 0-0 away to fellow strugglers Leicester City whilst in the Champions League, Chelsea won 5-0 away to Schalke, ensuring they progressed to the next stage of that competition. Sunderland were looking to continue their turn of form since their 8-0 trashing away to Southampton and take some points off of Chelsea. The Blues were looking to open the gap to 9 points at the top of the table.
Sunderland: Pantilimon; Vergini booked, O’Shea booked, Brown, Reveillere, Cattermole, Johnson, Larsson, Rodwell (Jordi Gomez 62′ booked), Wickham, Fletcher (Altidore 62′)
Substitutes: Mannone; Bridcutt, Jordi Gomez, Altidore, Alvarez, Coates, Buckley
Chelsea: Courtois; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpiliqueta, Matic booked, Fabregas, Willian (Schurrle 85′), Oscar (Drogba 76′), Hazard, Diego Costa booked (Remy 76′)
Substitutes: Cech; filipe Luis, Zouma, Drogba, Mikel, Schurrle, Remy
The first half began and Chelsea looked to press their hosts earning a corner within the first five minutes of the match. From said corner captain John Terry had a shot form outside of the box which was blocked, something that would become accustom during the game. Over a minute later Sunderland had their first effort through Connor Wickham who fired his shot over the bar. Chelsea then went through another spell of pressing and efforts coming from their midfield trio of Oscar, Hazard and Willian. Hazard failed to hit the target whilst Oscar and Willian’s were saved or tipped onto the post respectively. Chelsea were forced to have shots from outside of the Sunderland box which allowed the hosts to block and save the shots. Sunderland were set out brilliantly, forcing Chelsea into these efforts which never really threatened. In the 34th minute, Sunderland nearly took the lead through Vergini, great play down the right allowed him to take the shot and, despite lofting it over Courtois, it bounced off the crossbar. Chelsea finished the half on the back foot as Sunderland looked to carve out more efforts on the London club’s goal. Just before half-time, Diego Costa and John O’Shea clashed with neither being booked. O’Shea fouled the Spanish forward but his retaliation could have seen him cautioned. Half time though arrives and it’s 0-0.
Chelsea began the second half like the first, creating efforts but being limited to taking them outside of the box. Hazard and Oscar were the two main creators of the game but alas, they couldn’t breakthrough. Costa then received a caution for elbowing Brown in a mid-air dual which now sees him missing the midweek match against Tottenham. After more blocked efforts from Costa and Hazard, Sunderland made a double change to see if they could catch the blues on the break and get a goal. As Chelsea pressed on, Sunderland broke more frequently and got a corner which came to no real threat. However, Chelsea started a break from the corner but O’Shea brought down Costa in which the Sunderland skipper received a yellow card and Chelsea then made their double substitution. Fouls, missed opportunities and substitutes filled the remained of the game. This was the first time in the Premier League this season in which Chelsea failed to score. Full time at the Stadium of Light: 0-0.
Sunderland can take a lot from this game, they set up well and kept their shape for the entirety of the match. They frustrated to boys in blue and allowed them to take shots from outside of the box. When you have a 6ft 4′ goalkeeper thats comfortable stuff to deal with. For Chelsea, sides might take note from the Sunderland structure to try and cause them similar problems. Costa had very few touches during the game, and when he did there was usually 3 players around him.
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