Chelsea will certainly not want to remember this match, not only because of the result but also due to the behaviour of members of their staff. In the first half, Ramires ludicrously swiped at Sebastian Larsson – landing a blow to his face. Luckily for the Brazilian, Mike Dean did not see the incident, despite seeming to be in a perfect position for it. If that wasn’t enough, there was more unsavoury scenes to come. Moments after Sunderland took the lead from the spot, assistant first team coach of Chelsea Rui Faria simply lost it. Dean went towards the touchline in a bid to calm him down but was welcomed by Faria looking to approach him. Only prevention from Jose Mourinho and other members of the Chelsea staff stopped him from nearing Dean. It won’t be the last that we hear of these incidents from Saturday’s match and it shouldn’t be. This kind of behaviour cannot be condoned at grassroots level, never mind on the Premier League stage. What took place is not only unethical to the opposition and referee, it simply has no room in the game. Younger footballers will have watched the events and what kind of message does it send to them?
This was supposed to be a routine three points for Chelsea but it soon turned into a nightmare. Not even Gus Poyet could have believed the result was possible after how the game begun. The hosts were camped in the Sunderland half for the opening stages and had no sense of danger. But a lack of killer instinct in front of goal, along with great determination from the visitors, gave Poyet a priceless three points. It is this determination that will be crucial in Sunderland’s remaining games if they are to remain a Premier League club. Four points from visits to Manchester City and Chelsea must give the side the required belief, but now it is just a matter of if they can continue to sustain the level of performance that has put them within a fighting chance of staying up. The Black Cats now sit three points of 17th-placed Norwich, who welcome Liverpool to Carrow Road tomorrow. Sunderland face Cardiff next before another tough away day – a trip to Old Trafford. Following that is two home fixtures to West Brom and Swansea City. If, and that is a big if, Sunderland can produce the spirit as shown today, then victories are sure to come. Apart from the visit to Manchester United, the club will feel they have a chance of winning each other of the matches. If they can do that, the great escape is well and truly on.
As well as the shock defeat, Sunderland also shattered Mourinho’s unbeaten Premier League record. It was one which has lasted 77 games and looked certain to remain intact until next season. But, even Chelsea fans will admit, their side has shown glimmers of fading in recent months. There seems to be a lack of spark but yet they have remained in the title race and in the hunt for Champions League silverware. Mourinho can take credit for that, he is simply a master in his trade but losing the record is sure to hurt him. However, it is now his duty to rally his troops for a Champions League showdown with Atletico Madrid, either side of a crunch clash with Liverpool. The result emphasises even more that Chelsea must win at Anfield to have any chance of securing the title and Mourinho will know more than most that there are sure to be even more twists and turns before the season comes to an end – possibly even at Norwich tomorrow.
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