Cattermole & Larsson proving a big loss for Sunderland and five other things learned from Chelsea defeat

Chelsea 3-1 Sunderland. Picture by FRANK REID

Chelsea 3-1 Sunderland. Picture by FRANK REID

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Well, there was little festive cheer for the travelling Sunderland fans at Stamford Bridge.

A 3-1 defeat which leaves the Black Cats in deep relegation trouble.

Jack Rodwell battles for the ball

Jack Rodwell battles for the ball

But what did we learn from the trip to the capital?

Even Chelsea at their worst this season would have wiped the floor with Sunderland first half:

Chelsea’s problems this season have been well documented.

Their fall from grace from being crowned Champions in May has been quite remarkable.

Ola Toivonen in action for Sunderland

Ola Toivonen in action for Sunderland

But the news that Jose Mourinho had been axed as boss just 48-hours before the game was the worst possible news for Sunderland.

There was bound to be a reaction. And there was.

Mind, the Black Cats were so poor that even Chelsea at their worst this season would have wiped the floor with them.

Sunderland were that bad first half.

Sunderland’s problems stem from the middle:

Chelsea were rampant. But Sunderland allowed them to be.

The Blues players would have been low on confidence given their troubles this season.

Sunderland needed to get into them early on, compete for every challenge and deny them space.

They did none of those things and as a result, Chelsea ran riot.

Jack Rodwell and Ola Toivonen were passengers for the opening 45 minutes.

Yann M’Vila the only player to come out with any credit.

Seb Larsson and Lee Cattermole proving a HUGE loss:

How different the work rate and work ethic would have been if either of those two were playing.

Jack Rodwell, handed a chance in central midfield, was poor.

Ola Toivonen was anonymous and it was no surprise to see him hauled off at the break.

Sunderland need injured Cattermole and Larsson back sharpish to add some extra bite and edge to their midfield.

Big Sam shows a lot of faith in Little Dunc:

Duncan Watmore couldn’t get a game for the first team last season but now he is one of the first names on the team sheet.

And it shows how far he has come that Sam Allardyce named him up front alongside the returning Jermain Defoe.

Steven Fletcher and Danny Graham both had to make do with a place on the Sunderland bench.

Watmore is still learning and is far from the finished product.

He didn’t enjoy the best of games at Chelsea, it has to be said. But he wasn’t the only one.

But Allardyce has once again shown how much faith he has in Watmore.

‘Mind the Gap’. Poor form will make it increasingly difficult to bring players in:

Allardyce is targeting a centre-back and a centre forward in January.

Those are his two main priorities. Anything else will be a bonus.

But the worrying form and the increasing gap to safety - now five points ahead of the trip to Manchester City and home game with Liverpool - is making attracting new players a much harder ask.

It would have been hard enough as it is was to attract them to the North East.

If Sunderland are cut adrift by January though, then that pressure only increases as the hopes of staying up diminish.

Little festive cheer for superb Sunderland supporters:

Just a few days before Christmas and Sunderland fans were charged upwards of £47 to watch their team in action at Stamford Bridge.

An astonishing amount. And they got little back for it.

But the sold-out away end never stopped supporting their side, applauding them off at the end despite the defeat.

The supporters are a credit to the club.

But the players need to start giving something back. And fast.