The Observer, Paul Wilson: “This was not the most impressive display from Chelsea – it was a hard-fought win on a bitterly cold afternoon in the north east – but you cannot play Derby every week and you get the same number of points for a single-goal victory as you do for a six-goal rout.”
Sunday Telegraph, Martin Hardy: “Unbeaten in 12 – in the league at least – belief grows within Grant and his players that the timing of their run for the line could not be better.”
Sunday Times, Pete Oliver: “Chelsea’s hopes of regaining the championship, and therefore offering Grant the chance of job security, are likely to lie with their results in home games against Arsenal and Manchester United in the closing weeks of the season, but it is debatable whether they will face a much sterner examination than provided here.”
Independent on Sunday, Michael Walker: “One week after Barnsley, Chelsea have re-established some semblance of self-esteem. Seven goals and six points have come, albeit against two relegation contenders, Derby County and Sunderland. But if Chelsea are to regain the title, it is their next two games that will shape their fate, Tottenham away on Wednesday night followed by Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.”
Official Chelsea FC Website: “Another vital three points on the road to keep the pressure up at the top, but not before the Blues survived a strong second-half test from Sunderland, the home team reacting well after going behind to a John Terry header.”
Dark clouds are forming over Sunderland. Planetary alignment is imminent, Black Cats signify the devil and Roy Keane, known as Damien from the Omen by his counterparts, is at the helm to the transform the Stadium of Light to the Stadium of Darkness. Could our Blue Angels save the Weirsiders from an eternity in Hell?
Not since Keane faced Patrick Vieira has he faced such a heavyweight challenge but today he faced Avram Grant. Three changes to our team which, probably due to the aerial threat posed by Sunderland, raised our average height considerably.
Early on there were some crunching tackles to set the tone. We started in lively fashion with a great move from Salomon Kalou thwarted by a great tackle. A few moments later Sunderland floated a ball into our box and John Terry made a clumsy challenge. It would have been a harsh penalty but, as boring commentators often say, “I’ve seen them given”.
Kalou was our biggest threat early on, with plenty of fine runs. After 10 minutes we won a corner and from Frank Lampard’s in-swinger Terry rose to head in his first goal since the opening game of last season. Just like the good old days!
Sunderland got soft free kick just outside the box from a nothing tackle by John Mikel Obi. Andy Reid didn’t put all his weight behind the kick, which is fortunate because he must have the same dietician as Grant, but instead floated the ball up and over our defensive wall bringing out a top class save from Carlo Cudicini.
Midway through the half Joe Cole fell to the ground after a tackle and as Dean Whitehead ran past he clipped Joe in the face. Well that’s what appeared to have happened judging by Joe’s reaction as he chased after Whitehead but the pictures were inconclusive. However later in the half Carlo made a save at Roy O’Donovan’s feet and there was absolutely no doubt that O’Donovan left his foot in to catch Carlo in the face. Clearly Damien trains his devil workers to surreptitiously kick opponents in the face when they’re lying on the ground defenceless. Three players were mysteriously dropped from the Sunderland team so I can only surmise that this is because they either refused to carry out these orders or didn’t understand the meaning of surreptitious.
The second half drifted into obscurity. Sunderland had more chances and they caused us problems in the air despite our extra height afforded by Alex.
- 3 points.
- Arsenal dropping 2 points.
- Didier Drogba, who had the potential of being a Chelsea great, is now a falling star. On current form it would be a tight call on how to rank him in the Hall of Fame compared to Chris Sutton, Robert Fleck or even Trevor Aylott. Let’s not get too hung up on him leaving, judging by this performance he’s already gone.
- Carlo Cudicini: One brilliant save earns an 8/10.
- Paulo Ferreira: Steady – 7/10.
- Alex: Not as dominant in the air as he should have been – 6/10.
- John Terry: Not dominant in the air either but at least he scored – 7/10.
- Ashley Cole: Steady and got forward – 7/10.
- John Mikel Obi: It’ll be a while before they rename the Makelele role – 6/10.
- Michael Ballack: He’s raised our expectations but didn’t live up to them – 6/10.
- Frank Lampard: Classy. Had the best ball control and accurate passing – 8/10.
- Joe Cole: Blew hot and cold – 7/10.
- Salomon Kalou: Blew slightly hotter than Joe but then went cold – 7/10.
- Didier Drogba: Kalouless – 4/10.
Frank Lampard. It could have been Kalou had he sustained his first twenty minutes’ performance. Allegedly Frank’s now getting impatient with the club for not concluding his new contract yet all the while Frank has said he didn’t want to discuss his contract until the end of the season. Still if his current fine from is due to putting on a show to enhance his negotiating position then I recommend Peter Kenyon locks away his pen and keeps Frank on his toes.
Having successfully exorcised the Stadium of Light have we moved 3 points nearer to heaven or simply postponed falling off a precipice to hell?