Brave, committed and
disciplined are three of the words that describe Sunderland's
performance to become only the third team this season to take points
away from the run-away league leaders Chelsea.
same three words can also be used to describe the role of Lee
Cattermole in giving what was surely one of the finest performances he
has ever had in a Sunderland shirt, making many important blocks and
being the central figure in keeping Sunderland's shape and dynamics in
check throughout the match.
first quarter of an hour saw a large amount of possession from Chelsea,
setting the tone for the rest of the game. Two counter attacks from
Sunderland reminded the Londoners of Sunderland's strengths, but the
first real chance was from Willian, hitting the post from a long shot on
the sixteenth minute. Long shots would become the feature of Chelsea's
forward pressure as Sunderland were able to contain the movement from
Diego Costa and Eden Hazard, most importantly perhaps in the
twenty-first minute when John O'Shea was able to make a clean last-ditch
tackle to stop a break through on goal from Costa. A battle which would
continue throughout the match, including an incident which will surely
lead to a retrospective ban with the striker blatantly kicking out at
became slightly rattled following a decision from referee Kevin Friend
not to award Steven Fletcher a free kick, leading to assistant coach
Mauricio Taricco being sent to the stands for a prolonged argument. The
players, however, held their nerve and were able to provide Santiago
Vergini the best chance of the match, the Argentine only managing to hit
the crossbar following a cross from Adam Johnson.
second half started in much the same way, with Sunderland again looking
disciplined in a deep defensive system but able to break forward. There
were signs that Chelsea were looking rather frustrated, Diego Costa in
particular being booked for an elbow on Wes Brown. Chances for
Sunderland in the first twenty minutes of the second half were few,
however, the only real moment coming when a cross from Connor Wickham,
looking bright and pacy on the left wing, met the head of Adam Johnson,
who could only hit the Chelsea defence.
provided the outlet in attack for much of the game, but failed to link
with Fletcher who once again looked too isolated in the lone role.
Cheers and chants for Jozy Altidore surrounded the stadium when he
replaced the Scot on the sixty-first minute, and he immediately made a
mark on the game, looking busy and getting into key areas, almost
scoring following a physical break into the box on the eighty-first
minute. Two minutes later a block from an Altidore shot fell to the feet
of Adam Johnson, who perhaps should have done better than to have shot
wide of the post.
remained dominant in possession until the final whistle, but in truth
never looked like seriously troubling Costel Pantilimon's goal.
Sunderland have now given performances to help erase the 8-0 humiliation
at Southampton, and the team spirit and work rate in such games like
this is certainly reassuring for the rest of the campaign.