Sunderland 0 Chelsea 0: Three talking points as Blues draw a blank

Three talking points as Jose Mourinho's men are held to a draw at the Stadium of Light

By Dipak Patel

Chelsea’s attackers struggle for the first time this season

Sunderland were excellent defensively and kept their shape nice and compact as Chelsea struggled to break them down. Eden Hazard, Oscar, Willian and Cesc Fabregas were restricted to optimistic shots from outside the box. Most of them went wide, but the occasional one that seemed goal-bound was blocked by a committed challenge. One of the main problems for Chelsea was their insistence to always cut inside and pass laterally rather than forward. It must have been frustrating for Fabregas. His natural instinct is to always look for runs and play through balls in behind the defence. He had no one to really aim for and that would have been a frustration for Jose Mourinho. The Blues were also guilty of trying too much in and around the box. It had similarities to Arsenal. There were plenty of pretty triangles and one-twos that were easy on the eye, but they lacked a cutting edge. It will frustrate Mourinho but the Blues still remain seven points clear.

But can anyone catch the Blues?

This sort of dominance is reminiscent of Manchester United during the 90’s. Chelsea are winning games with composure, quality and arrogance. United often won games before they stepped onto the pitch and Sir Alex Ferguson created that aura, Mourinho seems to be replicating that. It is still early in the season, and yet people are already wondering whether Chelsea can be caught. Arsene Wenger said in a recent news conference: “If you look at the number of points they have, if they keep that up nobody will catch them, that’s for sure. There doesn’t look to be anybody capable to challenge them at the moment.” Pundits on the BBC such as Alan Shearer and Robbie Savage have said that they are the best team in the league by a mile. This is remarkable considering there have only been 13 games this season. The Blues have amassed 33 points from a possible 39 and have only dropped points against both of the clubs in Manchester and Sunderland. It seems unrealistic at this point that Chelsea could recreate the infamous ‘Invincibles’ season that Arsenal had back in 2003-04. But if they carry on this sort of consistency, anything is possible.

The Black Cats show a resilience that may help them avoid relegation

Before the Chelsea game, Sunderland were unbeaten in their last three games and had showed some decent form. They carried on with that today as they made it difficult for the Blues to break them down. Wes Brown and John O’Shea held firm in the face of colossal pressure and the full-backs supported them well. Defensively, it was an excellent performance as the Sunderland players restricted space, showed composure, and played with passion. But the major concern for The Black Cats will be the lack of goals. They had some extended periods of pressure but rarely looked like creating any clear cut chances apart from Santiago Vergini’s effort which clipped the bar. Steven Fletcher was isolated up front and had very little effect before he was substituted. This wasn’t really his fault though, it was more down to negativity from Sunderland as they looked to contain, rather than attack. In fairness to Gus Poyet, it’s a normal tactic to adopt against the best side in the country. However, you could sense from the crowd that there were a few missed opportunities today. In the final ten minutes, Sunderland created a few chances as they searched for an unlikely winner, but in the end, a draw seemed a fair result.

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