The Blues got the three points they needed tonight to remain just four points from the top of the table, largely due to the best individual performance Chelsea have seen all season. The performance on the whole didn't look all that sharp, but Eden Hazard was on another level tonight and Sunderland had no answer for the rampaging Belgian.
We looked the better side early on, but found ourselves down a goal just 15 minutes in after Jozy Altidore found the back of the net. There probably wasn't a whole lot the Blues could have done to prevent the goal itself, but it was a fairly silly foul to concede which led to the early deficit.
Chelsea didn't waste much time searching for a response though, as Frank Lampard headed home a perfect Eden Hazard cross to level the score at 1-1. About 20 minutes later Eden Hazard made it 2-1, scoring from the edge of the 18-yard box. Jose Mourinho's side had several opportunities to add to that lead before the end of the first half, but couldn't convert any of them and took a one-goal lead to the break.
Sunderland came out of the break looking sharper than the visitors, and leveled the score after some sloppy set piece defending. The Eden Hazard show wasn't over yet though, as another fabulous goal put the Blues up 3-2.
The Blues continued to look the better side, and an own goal in the 84th minute seemingly put the game to bed. Some more shambolic defending allowed Phil Bardsley to make it 4-3 though, ensuring some very nervous moments until the end. Fortunately the Blues managed to hang on, taking home maximum points.
Here are a few thoughts as we look ahead to Stoke City:
- I enjoyed the Fernando Torres that turned up over the weekend, it's just too bad that same guy didn't make an appearance today.
- I think it would be for the best if Fabio Borini heads back to Italy soon, as I'd be surprised if he ever makes a viable career playing in the Premier League.
- We have quite the embarrassment of riches in the attacking midfield, don't we? Not many teams could lose a player of Oscar's caliber without skipping a beat.
- The next two matchdays ought to be fun, as we have relatively weak opponents while the league leaders get Everton and Manchester City. Have fun with that, Arsene.
- I really hope Mourinho has a word or two with Hazard about picking up a booking after scoring his second for the night. That's just a stupid way to take a yellow card, and it drives me insane whenever I see it happen.