Sunderland 0 Chelsea 0

A point is all what Chelsea deserved as the league leaders ground out a 0-0 against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

The Blues remain seven points clear of Southampton who play tomorrow and, come the end of the season, it might prove to be a valuable point.

The Black Cats set out their stall not to concede early and hope to force the pace late on, it worked a dream for Gus Poyet, but Jose Mourinho could not be faulted on at least trying to win the match, bringing on strikers Didier Drogba and Loic Remy as substitutes, and then introducing wide man Andre Schurrle to nab the three points.

On this occasion attrition and will power by the home side overcame the supposed artistry of the Londoners.

A brilliant early game sequence of passing from the Blues which must have amounted to 30 passes silenced the early roar from the locals.

The home side countered this by playing with almost nine at the back, hoping for an attack on the counter.

Steven Fletcher for the Black Cats did have an attempt of sorts, on goal, nine minutes in, but his curler from the edge of the Chelsea penalty area, on the left, went high and wide of Thiabut Courtois's crossbar.

Diego Costa responded in kind two minutes later.

But 16 minutes, in and following a quick break by the Blues, Willian found himself on the edge of Sunderland's area. He had no options either side, so he went straight for goal with a daisy-cutting right-footer. The ball beat Costello Pantilimon but ricocheted off his right upright and out to safety.

Ex-Manchester United centre-back made a brilliant last-ditch tackle to thwart in-running Costa on 23 minutes just as the striker was about to pull the trigger after a fine set-up ball by Cesc Fabregas.

Courtois made his first save three minutes later when Jack Rodwell tried an effort from range. The 6ft 6 inch goalkeeper made plucking that ball out of the air look like child's play.
On the odd occasion, the home side got over the half-way line they managed to shoot themselves in the foot. A prime example was when Adam Johnson needlessly handled the ball in Chelsea's area. This resulted in fans getting on referee Kevin Friend's back. This continued in the Sunderland dug out, resulting in assistant manager Mauricio Taricco getting sent to the stands.
The former Spurs midfielder was actually sent off playing against Chelsea in a 4-0 rout for the Blues in 2002.

The woodwork came to the visitors aid on 34 minutes when Santiago Vergini ghosting behind the Chelsea back four and clipped a useful ball over Courtois from close range. But luckily for the league leaders the ball only rattled the crossbar and not the back of the net.

Costa was somewhat fortunate not to be sent off after a clash with O'Shea close to the dugout on the half-way line right on the whitle. When the striker's right boot came perilously close to the defender's shoulder. But Friend decided that a warning for both players was sufficient.
Neither side Made any chances at half-time.

Gary Cahill should have scored but failed to get enough power on header from a Willian corner on 38 minutes. The fact that O'Shea was all over him might have contributed to the easy in which Pantilimon cooly collected the close range effort.

Willian tried a ferocious right-footer from the edge of the penalty area a minute later which inched wide of the Sunderland goalkeeper's left upright as the Blues once again dominated possession.

Costa received a yellow card nine minutes after the restart for leaving a trailing right hand that smacked Wes Brown across the face when the two jumped for a ball.

That was Costa's fifth booking of the season and he will consequently be banned for one match, missing the Spurs match at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

Gus Poyet made the first changes on the game bringing on Jordi Gomez and Jozy Alitdore for Rodwell and Fletcher on 63 minutes.

The arrival of GomezAltidore in particular has added a bit of muscle to the home side attack and making him a focal point - Cahill bouncing off the striker when the two went for a ball a prime example.
A blistering Nemanja Matic 20-yarder almost knocked Pantilimon over as the goalkeeper grasped the rasper in his midriff on 67 minutes.

Courtois was in action three minutes last era holding a smart shot by striker Conner Wickham as the home side sensed that will a bit of adventure and with the game entering into its final third, they may still snatch all three points.

O'Shea finally got his yellow card for hacking down Costa on 75 minutes. Jose Mourinho decided he needed more urgency and aggression up front so he took off Oscar and Costa, replacing them with two strikers - Didier Drogba and Loic Remy.

Drogba took five minutes before getting his first effort - but he only could screw an angled left-footer wide.

But while going for goal, the Blues started to leave gaps at the back.
Adam Johnson almost scored on the counter attack, but the England man hit a his edge of the area shot wide of Courtois's goal.

Mourinho's intent was clear and with six minutes last on the clock, on came World Cup winner Andre Schurlle to add pace to the attack, replacing Willian.

With the tide turning towards Sunderland Matic conceded a free-kick and justifiably received a yellow card from Friend.

Johnson tried his luck with his trusty left footer with four minutes to go, this time the long-range effort only inched past Courtois's left post.

A clipped Drogba header deep into added time that went wide of goal was the last action and the Blues leave the North-East with a point. It could have been three, it might have been none. What is clear is that the Blues go into Wednesday's meeting with Spurs at the Bridge top of the Premier League.

Teams: Sunderland, Pantilimon, Brown, Cattermole,, Larsson, Rodwell, Fletcher, Wickham, Johnson, Reveillere, O'Shea, Vergini
Subs, Mannone, Bridicutt, Gomez, Altidore, Alvarez, Coates, Buckley

Chelsea: Courtois, Ivanovic, Fabregas, Oscar, Hazard, Costa, Matic, Willian, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta
Subs, Cech, Luis, Zouma, Drogba, Mikel, Schurrle, Remy

Referee Kevin Friend