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

I read on some site or other that Djilobodji was looking forward to welcoming his former team-mates to the Stadium of Light. Well, I hope he’s still feeling that way when he’s got Costa and Co running at him this evening. On paper most people would expect us to be well-beaten but as we all know anything can happen in this league. We beat Leicester and next week they gave Man City a good hiding and though Chelsea have won nine on the trot, what are the odds on ten in a row? I heard that Kirchhoff will start and Borini will be playing so I hope that’s true. Match prediction: 2-1 (heart), 0-3 (head).

I got home from work just in time to get the game on via the internet but too late to see Bradley lead the Lads out. Our fans were in great voice and I hoped that would be a factor in our favour. There was no Anichebe but both Januzaj and Borini were starting as well as O’Shea, Kone and Djilobodji, which was interesting. Chelsea won the first corner of the game after four minutes and I was pleased to see Djilobodji head it firmly away. Next thing Jones was pelting down to their goal-line but his final ball was poor and it came to nothing. I didn’t realize that Chelsea’s Alonso was the same one we had a while back. As planned, there was a tremendous ovation for Bradley in the fifth minute. Januzaj soon conceded his second corner but we got it away and a free-kick helped to clear it out of our half. Not surprisingly we had our backs to the wall but the fifteen minute mark passed and it remained goalless without any serious threat on our goal. We won our first corner five minutes later and we brought our three big defenders up so we were nearly caught on the hop as it was quickly cleared towards our half. Just after the midway point Janzaj had a decent effort that went just wide; things were looking up. Alonso was having much the better of Januzaj and that looked ominous but it remained 0-0 after thirty minutes. Pickford made a great stop after we’d allowed too much space for once but the linesman’s flag was up anyway. PVA was making some tasty runs down the left flank and that gave hope of a breakthrough for us. Kirchhoff escaped a yellow for a bad foul on Willian and Pickford coped well with Luiz’s free-kick. Half-time was approaching but could we get there without conceding? We’d defended well so far. As soon as I wrote that Willian fed Fabregas and he put them one-up with a low shot into the right-corner from the edge of the box. Defoe was yellow-carded and that doesn’t happen too often. In stoppage-time O’Shea conceded a free-kick right on the edge of our box but we survived and at the break it was a case of so far, not too bad. Elsewhere both Boro and Burnley were losing 1-0 while Hull were 1-0 down and all those were good for us. Swansea were 0-0, which wasn’t so great.

Almost from the off we had a good chance when Januzaj forced a good save out of Courtois and we won a corner. Pickford reciprocated by deflecting a good Willian effort onto the bar and out for a corner. Januzaj had switched wings with Borini and that was a good move. Our fans were still in great voice. Seb came on for Kirchhoff about twelve minutes in and I was glad to see it as he’d looked rusty in his first start for ages. Almost at once Jones was injured and had to be replaced by Love. We were  defending well on the whole and with just one goal in it we were still in with a shout.
Borini got a card for a spot of shirt-pulling. I have to say that my heart had sunk when I heard Love was coming on but he was having a decent game. Fifteen minutes to go and it remained 0-1. Could we nick an equalizer? Yes, I thought we could but it was even more likely that Chelsea would get a second. Borini went off about ten minutes before the end and on came Khazri, who of course scored a cracker in the corresponding match last season. Five minutes to go and our fans were still roaring them on. Pickford took the ball off Costa’s toes and we were still in it. We won a corner in stoppage-time but Denayer’s header was straight at Courtois. Moses was booked as he conceded a free-kick to give us a final chance but again Courtois was there to save well from a great PVA shot and it ended 0-1.

I’ve seen other teams do much worse against Chelsea than we did tonight and with Swansea, Hull, Boro, Palace and Burnley all losing too it wasn’t all gloom. A couple of wins could take us out of the danger-zone and I think we can get the first against Watford at the weekend.

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