Our Sunderland juror’s verdict on defeat to champions Chelsea

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PERHAPS a 1-1 draw was a bit of an optimistic prediction, but, after a promising first-half performance, I thought Sunderland could take all three points once again against Chelsea.

Sadly that wasn’t the case; with such a lightweight midfield, absent of the physical presence of Cattermole or new signing Muntari, Chelsea were always going to dominate the game.

Yet again I was disappointed with Jordan Henderson. He’s undoubtedly the most talented product of the youth academy supporters have seen in a long time, but should that alone justify his place in the first team? Perhaps he just needs a rest, but we’re not seeing the best of him at the moment and I’m sure even he will admit that.

Phil Bardsley, however, is my player of the season so far, and last night he showed why he’s integral to the side.

In the past, he’s struggled in the more attacking positions, but Bardsley now seems to revel in his role on the left, and this season he has proven to be the complete full-back. Retaining him, along with Craig Gordon, should be one of Steve Bruce’s priorities this summer if the manager looks to make further progress next season.

Get tonight’s Sunderland Echo for more exclusive reaction and pictures from last night’s big game.