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Chelsea 0-3 Sunderland


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Chelsea 0-3 Sunderland

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Sunday 14 November 2010, Stamford Bridge.

Nedum Onuoha, Asamoah Gyan and Danny Welbeck scored as Sunderland deservedly thumped Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

In what is the Blues' biggest home defeat since April 2002 when Manchester United came to Stamford Bridge and left 3-0 victors, Steve Bruce's Sunderland were magnificent and simply outclassed and outplayed the defending Premier League champions.

Even though Carlo Ancelotti's side were without a number of key personnel, including key defensive duo John Terry and Alex, as well as influential midfield trio Michael Essien, Yossi Benayoun and Frank Lampard, the shocking frailty of their makeshift back four was exposed all too regularly and such a poor and lethargic performance is inexcusable. A chorus of boos from the pockets of remaining Chelsea supporters greeted the hosts at full-time, who have again surrendered points having failed to capitalise on further slip-ups by Manchester United and their cross-town rivals City.

In truth, Steve Bruce's side were magnificent, and it would not flatter Sunderland to describe their away performance as the best by any Premier League side in recent years. This is a result that will no doubt raise eyebrows across Europe considering Chelsea's miserly home form. The Blues had recorded nine successive clean sheets at their previously fortress-like home ground and goalkeeper Petr Cech had not conceded in the league since March - but both of those statistics were shattered by a sparkling Sunderland showing made all the more impressive by the absence of talisman Darren Bent.

Chelsea had thrashed today's opponents 7-2 back in January and had recorded twelve successive victories over the Black Cats, and considering their recent abysmal showing at St James' Park in a 5-1 mauling in the Tyne-Weir derby, the odds were stacked in favour of the champions continuing their impressive home record.

But early Sunderland adventure soon put paid to that notion as Cech found himself by far the busier of the two goalkeepers. The Chelsea number one was magnificent early on; testament to his good form this season, and he looked determined to maintain his season-long clean sheet at Stamford Bridge as he made a stunning save to tip away a header by Danny Welbeck.

Cech was then called into action once more to make a smart save with his legs, whilst at the other end Chelsea were beginning to build up a head of steam as the champions finally started to find their feet after a shaky first twenty minutes; Craig Gordon first did well to deny Nicolas Anelka after a sublime through-ball from John Mikel Obi whilst Yuri Zhirkov failed to show the required composure as he fired wide after cleverly working himself into a shooting position.

And though Didier Drogba twice tested Craig Gordon with optimistic efforts from dead ball situations, Sunderland's threat was only being heightened by a ridiculous lack of discipline amongst Chelsea's seemingly leaderless defence; the marauding Cole and Bosingwa guilty of leaving large gaps for the electric Sunderland forwards to venture into.

The opening goal for Sunderland might not have come as a shock to the disbelieving Chelsea crowd but its source was one that few would have foreseen. Moments after Cech had made an excellent double save to block first Gyan's effort and then Kieran Richardson's follow-up, Nedum Onuoha latched on to a clearing header from Branislav Ivanovic and waltzed through a number of tackles before scuffing the ball beyond the bewildered Czech Republic custodian.

If the opening goal seemed to knock the wind out of a shell-shocked Chelsea side, then the deafening silence around Stamford Bridge was testament to Sunderland delivering a knock-out blow on 52 minutes. In a move of sublime quality that the Chelsea crowds were used to seeing from their own side, Welbeck found Henderson and his first-time pass played through Gyan to clinically guide a shot past Cech.

Even with more than forty minutes remaining - stoppage time permitting - Chelsea were out of the contest. Their below-par showing in the first half had seen them muster a meagre two shots on goal and those two efforts had been simple for Craig Gordon; a calming and assured presence between the posts for Steve Bruce's side. To the outrage of nearly 40,000, insult was applied to injury as Carlo Ancelotti withdrew Florent Malouda - a player recently struggling with injury - and replaced him with Salomon Kalou to a torrent of boos.

The seemed craziness of the decision was underlined when Kalou failed to control a simple pass when well-placed in the penalty area. The day was becoming a horrific one for Chelsea whilst the small pocket of travelling fans were surely pinching themselves.

Chelsea's attempts to find a route back into the game continually faltered as they were comfortably nullified by the work-rate of their rivals, with the midfield axis of Henderson and Lee Cattermole particularly impressive. Even the introduction of young stars Gael Kakuta and Josh McEachran failed to galvanise the Blues, and to the jaw-dropping horror of the deteriorating Stamford Bridge crowd, Sunderland soon added a third to cap off a memorable day.

Having gone ten games in the capital without winning, Sunderland's Welbeck scored a deserved goal through fortuitous circumstances - Ashley Cole's wayward back-pass clinically put away by the alert forward who is on loan from Manchester United. His boss, Sir Alex Ferguson, will surely be sending him a congratulatory message for inspiring the Black Cats to a victory few outside of Sunderland had given them chance of achieving.

The full time whistle was sounded and received by a subdued chorus of boos from the quickly-emptying arena. It must be pointed out Chelsea were suffering from injuries, but they were absolutely outclassed by their opponents who will enjoy a long but ultimately fruitful journey back up north. Some Chelsea fans will maintain a silenced disbelief over the next few days as the impact of the result comes to realisation. Chelsea are now only two points clear at the top of the table, and successive bouts against the likes of Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United are to be feared judging by recent performances and woeful results at Anfield and now against Sunderland.

Work needs to be done. Quickly.

___________________________________________________________________

Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Bosingwa, Ferreira, Ivanovic, Cole; Ramires (McEachran 68), Mikel, Zhirkov (Kakuta 74); Anelka, Drogba, Malouda (Kalou 57)

Sunderland (4-4-2): Gordon; Onuoha, Turner, Bramble, Bardsley; Richardson, Henderson, Cattermole © (Elmohamady 90), Zenden; Welbeck (Riveros 90+4), Gyan (Malbranque 82)

The TalkChelsea.net Man of the Match was Sunderland's number 17, Danny Welbeck

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Not too sure panic stations is quite yet justified, given the absences.

However I have a worrying doubt about the hole Ray Wilkins will have left, and the decision seems to be either very 'Russian' or rash at best.

On the positive JT and probs Cole will miss the England farce....

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A certain blip in form we're going through right now. Rooting from the game at Aston Villa, we've not been quite been firing all cylinders like we usually do. Thankfully, victories earlier in the season have meant we still sit at the summit, albeit by a less margin then we'd hoped.

The return of Lampard, whenever it may be, will be a huge moral boost for us. I believe his and Essien's return will be in the same fixture, which should be a St. James' Park vs Newcastle on 28th November.

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Anelka & Malouda need to start tracking back more I think. It's all good when Bosingwa & Cole are bombing forward, but sometimes they lose pace running back. I think Nico & Flo have enough pace to run back and defend when the ball is with the opposition. This should've happened today, of all days, when we'd had such a weak defence.

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