After thrashing FC Schalke 5-0 in midweek and confirming a place in the knockout stages of the Champions League, it’s time for some Premier League action for the Blues when they visit the Stadium of Light to face Sunderland, this Saturday.
Mourinho’s team have 32 points from 12 matches so far this season without losing a single game with 10 wins and 2 draws.
As far as November is concerned, there has hardly been any effect of the so-called ‘November Curse’ on the unstoppable Chelsea side. The League leaders will be looking to end this month in style with a win over Sunderland, with the record of being undefeated also at stake. Here’s a look at the Sunderland Strength,Weakness, Team Report and Analysis
THE TEAM AND THE RECENT FORM:
The club based in Sunderland, England was founded in 1879. Also known as ‘The Black Cats’, they have won 6 First Division titles, 2 FA Cups, and 1 FA Community Shield in 1936. They were also the finalists of the Football League Cup in 2014.
The team led by ex-Chelsea player Gus Poyet managed to just avoid relegation at the end of last season with a game to spare. That however, was in itself, a remarkable achievement for the club as they won 5 of their 6 games and played a draw against Manchester City before their last game. In the course of these 5 wins, Sunderland became the first club to give Jose Mourinho his first defeat at the Stamford Bridge, ending a streak of 77 unbeaten games over two spells.
This season the team is currently placed in 14th position in the League table with 13 points in 12 games, including 2 wins, 7 draws and 3 losses. Among their last 5 games in the League, they have 1 win, 2 draws and 2 losses which also include a humiliating 8-0 drubbing at the hands of high-flying Southampton.
FORMATION AND STYLE OF PLAY:
On becoming the manager of the Black Cats, Gus Poyet initially experimented with a 4-4-2 and a 4-5-1 formation until he finally went on to settle for 4-1-4-1. This provides his team with a stable and prominent back four who have a defensive midfielder in front of them. Out of the other four men in midfield, two are the attacking central midfielders while the other two wide men are free to take runs down their respective flanks and provide width going forward.
The lone striker often comes back very deep during the game and as a result, the two wide midfielders are given enough space to go forward off the wings, and exploit the space left by the striker. The full backs then push up and provide most of the width to their play. Of the three midfielders, one sits in front of the back four while the other two keep moving around to receive the ball off the back four.
Sunderland often play most of the game in their own half, thus drawing their opponents towards them and allowing their midfielders to make way through the spaces in the midfield to reach their wingers playing very high up the pitch. Their game is thus controlled by the defence through the midfield.
The team is considerably good at defending as well as attacking set pieces and are known to cause trouble with their direct free kicks. Apart from this, they usually look good on counter attacks. Whenever any of their midfielders win the ball, they immediately set up a counter attack. And with their wingers playing high up at the pitch, the midfielders always have a player to play the ball out to, when they get closed down the pitch including their striker.
Once Sunderland have taken the lead, they are good at maintaining it. Their ability to frustrate their opponents in these situations, can make any team to play aggressively against them and commit fouls. Their main man in midfield, is Swedish international Sebastian Larsson and in Steven Fletcher, they have a decent No.9 who is also their highest goal scorer for the season with 4 goals.
The fact that Sunderland have a goal difference of -7 with just 12 goals scored this season in as many number of games, goes to show the poor finishing in front of goal. The inability to finish scoring chances is thus their biggest weakness. Another drawback is the large number of individual errors they tend to make. The strategy, formation and playing style might be implemented well, but these small errors during the game can land them in big trouble against Chelsea.
HEAD TO HEAD:
The two sides have met 117 times throughout history. The blues have got better of Sunderland 57 times, while the Black Cats have emerged victorious 39 times and 21 games have ended in a draw.
For Jose Mourinho and his team, this has to be must win game for several reasons including the revenge of the 1-2 defeat in earlier this year which ended his 77 games’ undefeated streak at Stamford Bridge. Also, ending the month of November with a good win will surely give the players a boost on their mission to become the ‘new invincibles’.
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Edited By: Vikram Vadiganeni