Chelsea made it three back-to-back wins with an away win against Sunderland thanks to a sublime goal from Daniel Sturridge. With Fernando Torres left on the bench, it was up to a front-three of Mata, Anelka, and Sturridge to show the £50 million flop how to score.
It did not take much time for the first chance on goal to come in, but it was for Sunderland. An excellent wasted opportunity from a free-kick which new man Bendtner really should have directed goalwards at least. Chelsea’s skill and passing, all played through Mata, directly led to the goal. A Mata shot which hit the post rebounded out to Sturridge, who fired a cross to John Terry and, at the second time of asking, scored from a tight angle. Chelsea continued to dominate possession up until half time, with the scoreline remaining 1-0, but the performance being much more one-sided and comfortable in Chelsea’s favour.
Six minutes into the second half, a beautiful goal from Daniel Sturridge. A perfect ball through the middle by debutant Raul Meireles found its way to Daniel Sturridge. Going away from goal and the angle tightening, he attempted an audacious back-heel that trickled its way into the net, with the despairing Brown not reaching in time to stop a moment of pure class going in. All was going perfectly for Chelsea and the chance of a first clean-sheet win, but that was not to be, with substitute Ji Dong-Won firing in little more than a consolation in injury-time from 12 yards.
Another win for Chelsea and Andre Villas-Boas, which was more comfortable than the scoreline suggested. There were positive signs of the new system played under AVB beginning to work, with Mata, on his full debut, at the core of the moves, passing and skillfully manoeuvring his way around opponents. AVB was daring to omit Torres, but with Fernando so rubbish on form, and Anelka so red-hot against Sunderland, who would have blamed him. A man by his word, he gave Sturridge his chance once he came back from suspension, just like he said he would. 10 points from a possible 12, AVB would be happy with how the team played. But he knows, as well as we all, the hard work begins now. Midweek games start, and with Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday in the competition even AVB admits Roman Abramovich is “obsessed” about, he knows he must play the cards right, playing Torres or not.