Will Blues slip up ?

Sun­der­land aim for another shock win when the y face lead­ers Chelsea

Weekend Witness - - Spor T - CESC FABRE­GAS

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.

PHOTO: GETTY

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.

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