The match reports
The Observer, Jason Mellor: “Another uncomfortable evening at his local restaurant awaits for Fernando Torres, after the out-of-sorts Spaniard was perhaps given a glimpse of Chelsea’s future that will have made for less than pleasant viewing. Torres, now with one goal in 22 appearances for the club, was dropped to the substitutes’ bench, and the decision by André Villas-Boas to discard the club’s £50m record signing was fully vindicated, as Daniel Sturridge scored a sublime goal. His strike, added to John Terry’s opener, gave the visitors their seventh consecutive victory at the Stadium of Light, against a Sunderland team who remain without a victory this season and who have lost eight of their last nine games at home.”
The Sunday Telegraph, Luke Edwards: “A comfortable away win and a crucial second goal from the striker brought in to replace Fernando Torres, things could not have worked out much better for André Villas-Boas at Sunderland. The decision to drop Torres would either make Chelsea’s new manager look very brave or very foolish. Daniel Sturridge ensured it was the former.”
The Independent on Sunday, Simon Hart: “Andre Villas-Boas showed he is not afraid to make tough decisions by dropping Fernando Torres for this match, and Chelsea’s Portuguese coach was rewarded with his side’s best display of his reign. Although it was Nicolas Anelka who replaced Torres in the central striking role, the decisive contribution came from Daniel Sturridge. Playing wide right, he marked his first Chelsea League start in 18 months by setting up John Terry’s opener and scoring the second with a cute backheeled finish, six minutes after the break.”
The Official Chelsea FC Website: “The Blues made it three wins in a row thanks to a deflected shot by John Terry and a special goal by Daniel Sturridge, but on a ground where we have a good record but find it hard to keep a clean sheet, our grip on the game slipped a little and Sunderland pulled one back in stoppage time at the end. There was still plenty to be pleased about. The tempo of the play was good, Juan Mata much to do with that, and Raul Meireles especially impressed on his debut as he brought a freshness and good use of the ball to the anchor midfield role.”
18′ Terry 0-1
51′ Sturridge 0-2
90′ Ji 1-2
Match of the Day highlights
Petr Cech, Branislav Ivanovic, Ashley Cole, Jose Bosingwa, John Terry, Raul Meireles, Ramires, Frank Lampard, Nicolas Anelka (Oriol Romeu, 79), Daniel Sturridge (Florent Malouda, 62), Juan Mata (Fernando Torres, 74)
The managers’ reaction
Andre Villas-Boas: “Today it went very well for us in terms of what we want to achieve. Not that we haven’t tried to do it before but it just didn’t happen in the other three games.
“Fortunately today we were able to do the passing which relates more to the way we train and the team played very well.
“The goal of course is avoidable but we can only say that Chelsea deserved to win. We were very consistent in the first-half and I am happy with everybody.
“The result in the first-half fell a little bit short, we could have gone into the dressing room with a better result but again we managed to score early in the second-half to take three important points.
“Tiredness still plays a big part when coming back from an international week for a team like us.
“Normally when they go we get left with three or four players to train and when the others come back most of them come back with two games in their legs.
“We had three players on the pitch who played 180 minutes [while on international duty] and coming back from international week is always difficult.
“It would be normal for the level of the game to slow down a little bit in the second-half. Not only because of Sunderland but because of our tiredness and the comfort of a 2-0 result means mentally you slow the game a little bit.”
Steve Bruce: “Chelsea were excellent today and they played the ball fantastically well – that’s why they play at the level they do.
“They frustrated us with the possession they had, however, we did have some good chances but on the day we have to admit that Chelsea were that bit better than us.
“In the first half there was that wonderful delivery from [Sebastian] Larsson and Nicklas [Bendtner] got a free header, that would have been a fantastic start for us but it wasn’t to be.
“From there we had a couple of good chances to get back in the game – even with all of the possession that they had – but at times some of their football was breathtaking.
“We found it very difficult to be chasing the ball all afternoon, which you have to do with Chelsea.
“Overall we stuck at it.
“We did have a late flurry and on another day we might have nicked something, but we do have to hold our hands up and say we were beaten by the better team.
“It was nice for Ji Dong-won to get his first goal for the club, it’s a shame it didn’t come 10 or 15 minutes earlier when there was a bit of impetus from us but it wasn’t to be.”
Didn’t see the game but it all sounds moderately encouraging, and pleasing to see Mata and Studge starting — AVB clearly willing to pick on form.
I assume there’ll be lots of rotation for the game on Tuesday. Got my ticket and looking forward to seeing Leverkusen who appear to be no slouches. I had to get an extra ticket for a mate of mine who’s some kind of high-level physicist. He rang up last week asking when Chelsea’s first night game of the season was.
Apparently his research involves the ongoing search for dark mata.
I take it you had your coat on ready, LTB?
Thought this was a most encouraging performance. First time I have seen some real evidence that AVB is changing the way we play. As soon as I saw the team-sheet, with Dan and Mata either side of Anelka (who went on to play in what looked like a withdrawn No.9 role) it looked like a ballsy selection to me.
Mata was excellent, again, and seemed to be everywhere – left-sided, centre-midfield and up-front. Thought Meireles played extremely well, too and for several periods of play, when we seemed to be all over them with continual possession in their half and some neat passing, I developed the thought that we’ve got our Chelsea back.
Still can’t see much improvement in Lamps’ form but it may be that he is now doing a ‘Ballack’ – stabilising the team without it really being clear what he is actually doing.
The 1-2 score flattered Sunderland, who had only 2 real chances all match compared to our 5. The main worry for now is that only two of our strikers (Sturridge and Malouda) have so far scored in 4 matches. Let’s hope Dan goes on to add many more as he looked classy yesterday.
Just on my way back from the game. First 70 minutes we were very good. It’s clear that Meireles and Mata are both footballers and our passing, fluidity, tempo and rhythm were much improved. At the end we were slovenly and hopefully AVB will remind the players that it’s rugby that runs for 80 minutes.
When Torres and Malouda came on our tempo slowed dramatically. I’d like to see Torres with Mata before writing him off.
Next week will be interesting to see whether the gap between us and Utd has changed since last season. If we lose by one goal the gap is unchanged. Any better result then it’s proof that journalists like to jump to premature conclusions. If we lose 8-2 we’re in deep trouble.
Can’t add much here.
Endured a very dodgy feed, but the team looked solid (last goal apart), and mid-week should be a much better guide.
Also agree with sentiment from previous post, that the media attention on our northern rivals can only be good for us.
Can’t say I’m relishing a trip to OT with our / their current form, but we usually fare OK up there; Mata, Meireles and Sturridge could all cause them some problems. Fingers crossed for no injuries against Leverkusen tomorrow night.
LTB – if you can get a Mata related pun into every thread, we’ll all club together and get you something nice. A pint, for example…
Only saw the 60-minute version on Football First where Mata and addition of Sturridge and Mereiles looked to be making a significant difference to our pace and movement.
Hard to judge from the editing but it all seemed to go horribly off the boil late on, up till when I thought the crowd effects mikes had been switched off there was so little noise from the Sunderland fans.
Close competition for most pathetic Torres-bashing of the weekend between:
1) totally “unbiased” Hansen’s doom and gloom act that Torres might be finished on MOTD and
2) The “Current Bun’s” attempt to turn some bland comments from AVB about squad rotation into a “Torres to be dropped for CL” headline plus “hints” entirely absent from the quotes that this could extend to Man U game too.
My prediction record may be, ahem, patchy but I’d say he’s a nailed on starter tomorrow.
I mentioned the Torres bashing by the totally (cough) unbiased Hansen on the previous blog.
It’s the same from all ex-Liverpool pundits though, they can’t seem to forgive him for wanting to leave the great Liverpool FC for a bunch of chancers and mercenaries like Chelsea.
With the arrival of Meireles Liverpool just need to accept the fact they’re now our feeder club.
As I was out and about at the River Festival on Saturday, I faced an afternoon of updates on Five Live or Talk Radio. Radio London were covering the Spuds so no help there. Then stone me, I stumbled across Absolute Radio on AM. Never heard of ’em (apparently they are what used to be Virgin Radio).
Jim Proudfoot and Tony Dorigo live from the Stadium of Light (or maybe watching it on a telly somewhere).
Anyway, they gave the impression that Chelsea were playing well. They particularly noted the effectiveness of the pressing on Sunderland’s midfield, which resulted in very little useful possession for the Black Cats (nice pic. Nick) and lots for Chelsea.
Mata made a big impression on them and overall they were very positive about our boys. Dorigo being ex-Chelsea may have helped of course.
My main concern was that for all the possession we weren’t creating enough clear cut chances and one goal wouldn’t be enough or even two for that matter. Cue panic and a general wateriness in the Bayou bowel when Sunderland got that late one.
Still it sounded like a decent away performance. As Liverpool showed at Stoke, you can go away, dominate and come back with nothing. The team are adjusting to what AVB wants so I think we have to resign ourselves to some nervous weeks ahead.
Man United next week seems to be coming too early but should we crash and burn (and I’m not convinced we will) at least it’s early enough in the season to recover.
I’m glad I got to hear the radio because it gave me some feel for what happened in the game. The risible stab at a highlights package on MOTD wasn’t worth a light. They spent more time with the camera on Torres than showing football. It was a master class in how editorial opinion and “telling the viewer a story” trumps showing match highlights these days.
Jonathan Pearce sounded like a man who’d rather stare into a bucket of cold sick than commentate on Chelsea and seemed seriously upset that Sunderland couldn’t muster a decent challenge. I used to get annoyed. Now I just sit cross legged at the opening of my Ashram and laugh.
The Beeb is to be valued for many, many good things, MOTD isn’t one of them. It’s not because we’re not on first or because they don’t wax lyrical about us, they just look like they can’t be arsed any more. That’s why MOTD2 was so refreshing when it started but it’s gone down the same sad road. Radical thought. Show more of the games and less of the clichéd analysis.
I’m going to the Bayer Leverkusen game tomorrow and that should be a good test. On the one hand you want an easy group (a la ManU – how do that do that every year) but if the ticket prices are going up then you hope for a couple of worthwhile contests I suppose.
Have they found the real Bosingwa wandering confused and lost down the Southend Road yet? And who is the bloke playing right back? He does look a bit like him.
And I noted the number of empty seats at The Stadium of Light. Hard times are starting to bite I fear. That maybe the last carriage on the gravy train just comin’ round the bend.
It’s a shame. In remember MOTD being almost a revelation in the early premiership years when Hansen started. He more or less invented the idea of using video highlights to show you things you wouldn’t have spotted for yourself, and he talked about the game in a way that actually made you think footballers knew more about football than the rest of us. Des Lynam gave the whole thing a bit more snap and verve. I used to go to the lengths of avoiding seeing the scores until 10:45 or whatever — the programme was exciting enough that you didn’t want to spoil it.
It’s become so stale and predictable now. I don’t know whether it’s because Hansen really can’t be bothered any more, or whether he’s done his job well enough that the footballing public has caught up with him and knows what he’s going to say in advance. Shearer’s a meatheaded embarrassment of course, a sop to the worst kind of moronic patriotism, and Lawrenson merely does a sarky version of whatever the media line is (“Mourinho’s Chelsea are boring,” “Arsenal need an experienced leader,” “City need time to gel,” zzzzzzz).
Of course the season it was on ITV was a thousand times worse so I suppose we shouldn’t complain.
I must say I never catch the anti-Chelsea bias on these things. With Alan Green you can certainly feel how much he hates Chelsea, but since he clearly hates everyone and everything in the universe, including himself, it probably doesn’t count as bias. Pearce I’ve always found the most interesting of the lot, now that Motty has become a buffoonish parody of himself.
All anybody in the media seemed to be able to say about the game was that Studge’s backheel was well skillz and uber leet (and probably that he pwned Mignolet). Of course, a few inches to the left and he’d have been a cocky showboating idiot who needed to spend a few months in the reserves to sort himself out.
It’s probably just my paranoia. I just recorded MOTD and watched it on Sunday and having skipped straight to our game. I expected the usual Torres nonsense but Pearce just seemed strangley unengaged which is in contrast to his usual approach. Sounded to me like he wanted to be somewhere else. Maybe the bed at the Premier Inn was lumpy and he didn’t get a good night’s sleep.
Away crowd represented well! Lost in all that Sturridge stuff was the fact that Terry’s goal was outstanding as well.
Wow. Bold team selection.
Personally I think our ‘defensive’ midfield 3 of Mikel, Mereiles and Malouda (or MMM I guess…,) is a bit lightweight.
Would have liked Lamps to have played to get himself in some sort of form, maybe half an hour from the bench? The forward 3 excites me, but Luiz’s first appearance of the season is both a pleasure to see, and a ‘mare waiting to happen.
Could be very close tonight…
Though, having taken a step back and actually engaging my brain, we could play 4-4-2 with Mikel and Mereiles in the middle, and Malouda and Mata on the wings.
It’s also an opportunity for the ever-increasing conundrum of whether we drop Lamps to show how we’ll do in his absence.
we are weak in the midfield
Utterly indifferent and unconvincing performance. Not sure Luiz should have been on the pitch to score, but great finish.
Nice to see pace going forward, Mata and Sturridge were really impressive. But why the continual need for Branko / Luiz / Bosingwa / Mikel to get above their station and try speculative 60-yard Hollywood passes? Not one worked. All it did was cede possession.
I hope the withdrawals are a signal of what to expect Sunday. Sturridge has to play. Ditto Mata. And Torres, great contribution tonight (not that you’ll hear that tomorrow, it’ll be all about another blank for him).
Think all I’d change is giving Josh a run. Why keep him at the club and leave him on the bench? That helps no-one. Strange.
Wow. And here I was ready to be all positive. Much better performance in my eyes than either of the previous home games: heaps better. Strange to see neither JT nor Franks nor Drogs — I wonder when was the last time that happened in a meaningful game? — but to me it worked: the midfield had a nice balance, with both Meireles and Obi playing quite tight and central and the front three plus Malouda (or maybe it was more Torres in front of a mobile attacking three) switching around and popping up everywhere. I agree with 50ee about the pointless long passes (for which Nando barely even bothered to pretend to compete) and about the excellence of Studge and Mata. Oh okay, and about the strange absence of Josh. But overall I’m more encouraged.
And I’d vote that my first-choice defensive pairing, easily. By miles.
And did anyone else notice that Leverkusen (reasonably impressive overall in a faintly anonymous Bundesliga kind of way) fell to bits as soon as Ballack went off? Hmmmm …
[…] The match reports The Observer, Jason Mellor: “Another uncomfortable evening at his local restaurant awaits for Fernando Torres, after the out-of-sorts Spaniard was perhaps given a glimpse of Chelsea’s future that will have made for less… […]
[…] made for less than pleasant viewing. More: Sunderland 1-2 Chelsea | Premier League match report • Sunderland 1-2 Chelsea • Ji 90; Terry 18, Sturridge 51 Another uncomfortable evening at his l…sorts Spaniard was perhaps given a glimpse of Chelsea's future that will have made for less than […]