Will Blues slip up ?
Sunderland aim for another shock win when the y face leaders Chelsea
SUNDERLAND — José Mourinho will attempt to overturn a landmark defeat when Premier League leader s Chelsea visit Sunder land this w eekend.
The last time the two clubs met was in April when Gus Poyet’s Sunderland side — then r ooted at the f oot of the table — pulled off a shock win at Stamford B ridge.
Defeat brought an end to Mourinho’s 77game unbeaten home league run in two spells as Chelsea manag er and helped der ail the Blue s’ title bid.
Mourinho’s side have not lost in the league since and last weekend’s onesided dismissal of West Bromwich Albion helped extend the club’s lead at the head of the Premier League to six points after just 12 g ames.
The 50 vict ory at Schalk e in mid week confirmed Chelsea’s place in the knockout s tage of the Champions League and extended the Blues’ unbeaten s tart t o the season t o 1 9 games in all c ompetitions.
A demanding schedule between now and the turn of the year will test Mourinho’s squad, but with their main rivals regularly dropping points, it is hard to see their commanding lead being whit
“I am pla ying ne xt t o gr eat players and the y ar e pla ying very w ell and ar e helping me .
tled a way in the f oreseeable futur e.
Unlike other leading Premier League clubs, Chelsea have managed to negotiate the opening months of the campaign without losing k ey pla yers t o longterm injury.
And def ender B ranislav I vanovic said: “We are playing as a t eam at the moment. It’s still an early stage of the year and we know how many games we have to play until the end of the season to win tr ophies. We have games every three da ys no w.
“At the moment we are very calm and everyone is thinking in the same direction,” he added.
Cesc Fabregas had a hand in f our of the goals that crushed Schalke and the Spain midfielder said he was playing the best football of his career following his close season s witch fr om Barcelona.
“I am pla ying next t o gr eat players and they are playing very well and ar e helping me,” the f ormer Arsenal playmaker said. “We have a young, talented team and the mood at the tr aining ground is gr eat.”
Connor Wickham scored in Sunderland’s 2 1 win in w est London se ven months ago that helped them pull off their e scape fr om r elegation, and the former England Under21 international insisted another surprise r esult shouldn’t be ruled out.
Poyet’s midtable Black C ats f ace a tough run of fixtures heading into December, with def ending champions Manchester City following the leaders in visiting the St adium of Light.
“We know we can do it from our per formances las t y ear,” W ickham said. “We just need to play the way we have been playing, and hopefully it’ll happen again.
“We had the same situation last season w hen w e f aced M anchester C ity, Chelsea and M anchester U nited in quick su ccession, but w e managed t o pull off something r emarkable then.”
Sunderland have lost just three times in the league this season. B ut se ven draws leaves them too close to the relegation z one f or c omfort.
Wickham added: “W e’ve pr obably had t oo man y dr aws w hich w e c ould have wo n.”
Former Chelsea midfielder P oyet is relishing his lat est meeting with the Blues after helping the club lift the FA Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup during a su ccessful fouryear spell f ollowing his arrival at Stamford Bridge in 1997.
The Sunderland head coach said: “I had a gr eat time ther e, but m y f ocus is full y on Sunder land. It will be nic e to catch up with a f ew old friends, but as soon as the g ame kicks off, I won’t see an ything other than our r ed and white.” — S apaAFP.
pl aymaker Ce sc F abregas sa ys he is pl aying the be st f ootball o f his c areer as his side pr epares f or t oday’s P remiership b attle ag ainst Sunderland.