Soapbox: I think I have seen the champions

“… They moved the ball beautifully and wherever it went, there was a Chelsea player, someone of the quality of Ballack or Kalou or Lampard. …”

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Just as well we have Blackburn on Saturday, as good a chance as we could have to bounce back. A preview Rovers fan’s preview will appear by tomorrow. “Complete and utter massacre. Can’t ever remember us being so completely overrun at home by another side. Frankly depressing …” was one Sunderland supporter’s harsh verdict on the 3-1 home defeat by Chelsea. Pete Sixsmith takes a more philosophical view of the gulf in class between the two teams …

Well, it could have been worse. But for some dogged defending and our visitors taking their foot off the pedal with 10 minutes left, we could have been looking at a repeat of Saturday night’s fiasco at Goodison. As it was, we were privileged to watch a master class in how to swat awkward opponents when they are annoying you.

Again, we got off to a flier and Bent took his goal really well. He picked up the ball that Kenwyne had forced out of the defender, moved quickly onto goal and slotted it past Cech in a manner completely unbeknown to the likes of Chopra and Murphy. This was after Chelsea had started well but had been pushed on to the back foot by some ferocious tackling from Cattermole and Cana.chelski

In fact, the first half was pretty even. We scored, they had one cleared off the line by Cattermole and at half time I felt that if we can frustrate them for 15 minutes, we have a chance, a real chance to go on and win.

You would think that someone as old and decrepit as me would know better. I gather that Ancelotti’s English is improving slowly, but whatever language he used in the bowels of the Stadium Of Light, it stirred his team to deliver a half hour that , had it been done to any other team than Sunderland, would have been a pleasure to watch.

They moved the ball beautifully and wherever it went, there was a Chelsea player, someone of the quality of Ballack or Kalou or Lampard. They pushed us further and further back and had us defending in the box before they equalised and then they ran at us, forcing poor McCartney to give away a penalty that even the terminally useless Steve Bennett couldn’t miss.

Then, just to make sure that there was no comeback, Deco lined up a shot that went in off the post to settle the game. All in about a quarter of an hour and sending out the message that we are the business.

It was the movement that did for us. Long before he was taken off, Cattermole was chasing shadows and Cana resorted to kicking the ball away as if it were a game of attack and defence down the Rec.

If the ball got up front, Terry was able to see off a tiring Kenwyne and knock the ball wide so they could start another move. It was like watching a very expensive, hand tooled, leather seated, walnut panelled motor car, rolling smoothly over the road, making no sound and pushing the Fiats and the Mazdas out of the way.

Can we take any positives? Yes, I believe we can. Jones worried Terry in the first half before the effects of his trip to Trinidad and Tobago and his Herculanean efforts at Horwich caught up with him. Bent took his goal well and worked tirelessly to try and stem the blue tide coming down the left side – although it did take him away from Kenwyne’s flicks.

The midfield was swamped by the 2-3-4-1 formation that Ancelotti used but it should cope better on Saturday when a) Malbranque returns and b) we play Blackburn. I don’t think that Andrews, Pedersen and Diouf are as effective as Lampard, Essian and Ballack.

Ferdinand and Collins did well, but Drogba is a superb player and even on his own up front, he was very, very difficult to play against. But they kept on and it must be difficult knowing that there is a potential replacement sitting in the stands watching.

Well done Chelsea. You are not a likeable club but this was as good a performance as I have seen at the Stadium. They had the look and the (entirely justified) swagger of champions. We must focus on Saturday and make sure that we do not slip up against a Blackburn side who are in the same section of the league as we are.

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Salut! Sunderland is written, illustrated and edited by - and principally for - supporters of Sunderland AFC. The site aims to be sufficiently literate and entertaining to appeal to people who do not follow SAFC but enjoy good football writing.

2 Responses to “Soapbox: I think I have seen the champions” Subscribe

  1. Tony August 19, 2009 at 1:01 am #

    We have to learn to keep possession. To play the ball through midfield, and not resort to hopeful punts upfield from the back.

  2. John Penmanship August 19, 2009 at 11:33 am #

    I had chosen to chuckle at the mighty Shellic being given a good hiding by the Wengaboys but my attention to that game was interrupted by a text from Sixer informing me of all things a Sunderland goal against Chelsea.I immediatly ran through to my PC and found a chanel broadcasting the game live.

    What I endured for the next hour was an exhibition of football from a club I dislike but have to admit were very impressive. My low opinion of Chelsea stems from tthe fact that two of the nastiest individuals to beinvolved in Football have strong connections to them.They are Ken Bates and Denis Wise.They also are basically a ‘big time Charlie club’. You know one of these clubs who if they had no sugar Daddy would be fighting relegation most seasons.To call them a ‘big four’club is I think nonsense.Their history suggests they are certainly not big and I would regard a number of teams outwith the Premiership as bigger clubs than them.

    This season however they look the real deal.The way they controlled the second half, making a decent Sunderland side look very ordinary, had the mark of champions about them.After our excellent result against Bolton I had a rather strange dose of optimism, which resulted in me having some misguided thoughts. A point against Chelsea may not be beyond us.The fact that it was is not down to our own misgivings but the quality that Chelsea possess.We actually defended reasonably well, caused them a few problems in the first half and showed a bit of urgency even when things got tough.Something we have not been used to for a number of years now.

    Steve Bruce is an excellent appointment, his signings look like the kind of quality we should be aiming for.I am confident we can survive this year without the usual last month squeaky bum time.What last night did prove is that we are no way ready to challenge for top 6 yet but top 10 has to be a realistic target.If that is to bode true then Blackburn must be disposed of on Saturday.

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