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Sunderland AFC v chelsea (A)...
LINES FROM LONDON: EXILES BLOG

We’ve got eleven players out injured so we may at last see a few of our younger squad members in the side this afternoon. Meanwhile Chelsea will probably bring back Costa and a number of others who missed their win over Watford the other day. It’ll be Terry’s last game for them and with that and winning the title it’s going to be party time for them all. The fortunes of the two sides couldn’t be more different but I think a lot of our fans will make their own black humour party out of proceedings and fancy dress may well be to the fore. We’ll probably never see Defoe on the pitch again unless we face whoever he’s going to play for in a cup game so it’ll be a real shame to see him go. Pickford is a true local hero and no doubt he’ll be off too. As for most of the rest of them I’ll be happy to see them go especially Januzaj, Borini and Kone. As I acclimatize myself to at least one season in the Championship and as a London resident I was glad to see Fulham stay down and Millwall come up so that’ll make it four London sides in the Championship next season. If we managed to score today, I’d be surprised and I can’t see anything but a Chelsea victory, at a bit of a canter, so my match prediction is 3-0 to them.

I was upstairs in the ground with a pint of Singha in my hand by 2.05. The club were giving a free match programme to everyone so I took one as no doubt it’d make a nice souvenir for someone, not for me. There was a photo of Bradley with the Chelsea team on the wall as I ascended the stairs. Our starting eleven wasn’t as different as I’d expected but sadly there was no Defoe anywhere, though Lescott was making a rare appearance. John Terry was captain for the day and Chelsea were playing their strongest side and I began to wonder if my 3-0 prediction was a bit optimistic.

There was a bit of a love-fest among the fans in the run-up to kick-off with a lot of our fans applauding the memory of recently deceased Chelsea player Terry Morris as well as applause for a Chelsea fan of many years called Kath who was ill in hospital and another fan John who was eighty today. The Chelsea fans joined in loudly with our applause for Bradley. When our players were announced there were some boos for Borini and a lot for Januzaj. Our team formed a guard of honour as the Chelsea players ran onto the pitch.

Januzaj seemed to be on his own upfront and he made his presence felt almost straightaway with a good run down the left that won a free-kick in a promising position. When the kick rebounded out to the right of the box Manquillo was there in plenty of space to smash it into the net and to our great surprise we were one-up. There was a chant of, “To the Championship 1-0!” but our joy didn’t last long unfortunately as five minutes later Chelsea were level. Alonso hit the bar with a free-kick and we just couldn’t get it clear till Willian shot low from the right and beat Pickford at the near post. From then on in it wasn’t looking good and Chelsea racked up five corners in a few minutes as they kept us pegged back. To his credit Januzaj was there to head two of these corners clear and shortly afterwards he went on a good run to set up Catts for a shot but he hit it well over. In the twenty-sixth minute Pickford was asked to boot the ball out and then there was more theatre as Terry, who was wearing his number 26, went off between a guard of honour of Chelsea players to much applause, and a decent ripple form our end too. Just to add some balance there were soon chants of, “John Terry, his mother’s a slag!” He was replaced by Cahill. It took more than thirty minutes for our end to produce their first chant of, “Where were you when you were shit?” Costa showed his horrible side when after a fairly innocuous foul from O’Shea he clutched his face and proceeded to writhe around on the deck. He was rewarded for his efforts with a yellow-card. It then started to go a bit quiet really and our fans were distracted by an altercation between two blokes a few rows in front. While some tried to calm things down, a guy behind me shouted, “Chin the beardy cunt!” Anyway, Lescott was looking tidy at the back and we managed to get to the break still level, even managing a decent effort on target by, I think, O’Shea in the dying moments.

During the break Chelsea’s youth squad came out and did a lap of honour to celebrate their triple this season. Haven’t Chelsea won enough already? Come on now… I could only spot one guy dressed in Superhero garb and no other fancy dress at all. I hope he didn’t feel lonely.

Everyone sat down for most of the second-half and a coldish cloudy day had suddenly decided to be red hot. Maybe Chelsea had temporarily forgotten that they were going for a record number of victories as the game had started to get a bit sleepy. Rodwell had a good downwards header from a corner five minutes in and that was about it for our chances. Moses must’ve been taking some shooting lessons from Catts as he had a shot that went for a throw-in. Unfortunately Chelsea decided to wake up just after the hour-mark and give us the good hiding I’d been expecting. It’s never a good idea to leave an attacking opponent unmarked on the angle of your box and it’s especially not good if that player is Hazard. He found himself in tons of room and having duly received a pass he smashed it into the right hand corner to put them 2-1 up. Januzaj was subbed by Gooch and the latter did well, running at defenders and often getting past them while he’s strong and wouldn’t be muscled off the ball. One to hang onto if possible. Chelsea dealt with our occasional forays effortlessly but then Lescott made a bad boo-boo with thirteen minutes to go when he headed the ball back to Pickford but hadn’t looked first. Pedro, who’d only been on for seven minutes, nipped in to make it 3-1. I was looking at the clock hoping the time would go a bit faster as I could see more goals coming and they duly did with another sub Batshuayi getting two in the dying minutes. Our fans had kept up a very extended chant of, “We are the Sunderland, the Sunderland boot boys...” as the defeat got worse and worse. I didn’t stick around but most of the crowd did to watch Chelsea be presented with their trophy.

There’s one thing to be said about playing Chelsea on the last day of the season when they’ve won the League again – you can catch the tube home easily. Sadly I can’t see me doing that again for a good while. See you next season.

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