Chelsea couldn’t find a way past a stubborn Sunderland defence in a disappointing game at the Stadium of Light on Saturday. The league leaders drew a blank for the first time this season, and they could have lost the game late on as Sunderland had quite a few chances.
Jose Mourinho kept faith with the side which started in the 5-0 win over Schalke in midweek, and they came into this game as huge favourites at a ground at which they’ve won their last nine league visits. Of course, the Black Cats won the last meeting between these sides at Stamford Bridge in April, ending Jose Mourinho’s unbeaten home league record in the process, so the Portuguese boss knew it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park.
Chelsea looked like a side on a mission for revenge in the early stages, as they camped outside the home side’s box and penned their players in. They probed and looked for a way through the resilient defence, but gaps were few and far between. Chelsea’s best chance came from Willian, the Brazilian hitting the post with a low drive from range.
With the Blues unable to find a way through, Sunderland’s confidence grew and they stepped out a little more. They hit the wood work themselves shortly after, when defender Santiago Vergini popped up in the Chelsea box and saw his effort crash off the cross bar.
The second half was a little livelier, but still there were no breakthroughs. The home side continued to look solid after the break, with Connor Wickham’s powerful shot almost catching Thibaut Courtois off guard. Jozy Altidore was sent on by former Blue Gus Poyet, and the American had a good chance to end Chelsea’s unbeaten run late on, as did winger Adam Johnson.
Mourinho sent on Didier Drogba, Loic Remy and Andre Schurrle as the game neared its conclusion in order to try and find a winner, but they created little. It was a point that Sunderland deserved for their hard work, restricting Chelsea to shots from distance like they did at the Bridge last season. The biggest blow of the night was probably a yellow card for Diego Costa, which keeps him out of Wednesday’s game against Spurs. Costa was at his most confrontational, and he could have seen red for an angry lash out at John O’Shea in the first half.
After the game Mourinho praised his opponents, whilst deflecting questions on Costa’s booking. “They defended a lot and they defended well”, he said. “Defending a lot and well is not a crime. It is a strategy and it was successful for them. We were a bit tired towards the end and we left a bit of space. But I’ve got nothing negative to say about my team.”
On Costa’s booking, for an aerial collision with Wes Brown, Mourinho said, “I didn’t see it. But the referee was close and he had a very good performance throughout. If I see the incident on television I might have a better opinion.”
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