Chelsea suffered a shock 2-1 defeat against bottom of the table Sunderland yesterday to hand Liverpool a major chance to stretch their lead to five points at the top of the Premier League table.
The defeat was Blues boss Jose Mourinho’s first home defeat in 77 Premier League games.
Sunderland were outstanding as they produced the perfect away performance. They defended like their lives depended on it and the experience of John O’Shea and Wes Brown showed against Chelsea’s multi-million pound attack.
The Black Cats have picked-up four points out of six at title challengers, after Wednesday’s 2-2 draw at Manchester City.
The Chelsea players must have watched the City game, where Sunderland were unlucky not to emerge with three points.
For a while the Black Cats looked to be heading for the Championship, but after their last two performances Poyet’s side have given their supporters some hope that may yet make the great escape.
Young striker Connor Wickham has now scored three goals in his last two games against two of the top teams in the country. What an amazing turnaround for the striker.
In truth Chelsea’s performance against the Black Cats was lacklustre. The Blues looked as though they believed they only had to turn-up to defeat the bottom team, but they did not expect such a battling performance from Gus Poyet’s side.
When Samuel Eto’o gave the Blues the lead early on it looked like it was going to be a routine Chelsea win and they would return to the top of the table. However, the Blues never really dominated the game and after Connor Wickham’s equaliser Jose Mourinho’s side never produced the performance you would expect from a Chelsea team on home soil.
Sunderland may have got a bit of lucky in the clash, but Chelsea seemed to lack composure and ideas in front of goal. The Blues had 31 shots on goal, but only found the net once, that is a big worry for Jose Mourinho and Chelsea fans.
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is without doubt a superb manager, but at times he does himself no favours. Sunderland’s second goal came from a disputed penalty. However, the Blues boss sometimes turns a blind eye to his teams own performances.
The penalty may be debatable, but if Chelsea had shown great composure in front of goal then the Blues would have been too far ahead of Sunderland for the decision to matter.
A home clash with a bottom of the table team should have been when Chelsea sent out a message to their title rivals that they mean business in the title race. Instead Chelsea showed that they are far from the finished article this season.
Chelsea face a massive Champions League semi-final against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday. Maybe the players were distracted by the big game looming. The Chelsea players may just have taken their eye off the ball and this defeat could prove very costly.
The Champions League may be a big attraction, but the Premier League is Chelsea’s bread and butter. The Blues have had their chances this season to take hold of the Premier League title race, but have failed against teams in the bottom half.
Chelsea under Jose Mourinho had been adept at grinding out results, even if the football was not the most stylish. Against the likes of Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and now Sunderland, Chelsea have been unable to grind out wins.
As I write this article Liverpool are winning 3-1 at Norwich and could move five points clear of Chelsea, if that happens it will be difficult for the Blues to claim the title. Everybody thought that Mourinho was playing mind games when he said that Chelsea were not favourites for the title.
However, it seemed that Mourinho could see his team’s faults and realised it was best to play down his team’s chances of success this season. Whether or not that is true, Chelsea’s display against Sunderland was definitely not one of champions.
The Blues face a trip to Anfield next weekend. Liverpool only needs to draw that game to stay in the box seat when it comes to the title race.
Chelsea were one of the favourites for title at the start of the campaign, but they have underperformed in a number of games this season. It now looks like Mourinho’s team has blown their chance of winning the league title and Mr Mourinho may have had a point about his team’s chances of success this season.
Can Chelsea still win the Premier League title?