Chelsea’s ninth away victory in a row at the SoL (equalling their own top flight record) was perhaps no surprise. It made it a staggering 17 Chelsea wins (home & away) from the last 18 games against Sunderland. The 3-0 win at The Bridge just over 3 years ago looks ever more anomalous. Chelsea scoring four goals against the team propping up all others in the Premier League would also not cause the startled spilling of too many cups of tea in the Match of the Day green room. However, not all was par for the course at the SoL.
After that incredible game of football there was a mixed bag of good and bad performances – which I guess you’d expect when we score three but concede four. Here are our thoughts on the heroes and culprits;
Jozy Altidore scored. Phil Bardsley scored minutes after an own goal. We scored from three set pieces. John O’Shea scored. We scored three goals. We witnessed one of best performances from an opposition player at the Stadium of Light. Erm, what's ganin on?!
It was nice that, the not being bottom thing, yet before another ball is kicked by Sunderland we're back where we started last weekend. In truth, it should have little impact on today's game, which was intimidating even when we were riding high in 19th. Our inability to score away from home makes games like this quite frighteningly important.
I've been watching Steven Fletcher with some interest over the last few weeks, trying to fathom whether he is unfit or something a little more serious. I feel like I'm treading on thin ice questioning a player so rightly held in high regard by us fans - but is he a victim or part of our problems?
This ladies and gentlemen is what it is like to witness a good away performance over ninety minutes without the red cards and other nonsense. I’m not beaming with pride nor racked with disgruntlement. I don’t feel it’s necessarily to lavish a great deal of praise but neither do I sense that impending doom is upon us. Despite how big a point it is and how admirable a performance it was, it all feels a bit…meh…really.
Well, that whole Stoke malarkey didn't go to plan whatsoever. Time for a new plan and give ourselves a fighting chance of that illusive away victory. Next is Aston Villa in what should be an intriguing encounter.
This week proved difficult to conjure up with a topic for the history piece, but little did I know that it had been slapping me in the face for days, may be even weeks leading up to this fixture – Gavin McCann.
We visit Aston Villa on Saturday in yet another huge game. Well, let’s be honest, every game is massive when you’re bottom of the table. For some insight from the other side, Damian from Villa’s best blog site The Villa Blog (@thevillablog) kindly spent the time answer some questions on Sunderland, Paul Lambert and the match.
There was something canny significant about Crystal Palace’s away victory with ten men which seemed to draw out our road to recovery to what feels a never ending length. I don’t necessarily think the result has made our survival any less palpable, perhaps it was better they did win, however seeing us slip back to the Premier League basement does hack away at the weary, old optimistic side of me. I hear a lot of people talk to me about how much easier we have things at home over the second half of the year which surely blind sights the difficulties we will face away from home.