IT’S no disgrace to lose at Stamford Bridge, especially by just one goal.
But a fair result for Sunderland at the weekend would have been a draw – and Martin O’Neill’s men might even have won it.
We scored four goals at Wigan in our last league outing and against Chelsea we created just as many good openings as we did at the DW Stadium, but just weren’t able to take any of them.
Creating four or five good chances at struggling Wigan is one thing, but to do the same against Champions League Chelsea at Stamford Bridge requires a far higher level of performance.
So I can completely understand Martin O’Neill’s exasperation at the final whistle that Sunderland had done all the hard work needed to get themselves into great positions, yet just not been able to find the final touch to make all the decent play worthwhile.
Having said that, though, there are defeats and there are defeats.
Some defeats can completely take the wind out your sails and threaten to send your season off course – the home defeat to Newcastle United springs to mind, as does the home defeat to Wigan.
But then there are defeats like the one to Chelsea on Saturday where you can almost take as many plusses as negatives from the game.
In the second half especially, we went toe-to-toe with Chelsea and came off best in terms of the creating the clearer-cut chances – and that takes some doing against a team of their quality.
We shouldn’t forget that we talking about a team that won the title a couple of years ago, occupy a top four place and are in the last 16 of the Champions League.
To go away from home and create four or five really good chances is a fair old achievement and to do it at Stamford Bridge, even more so.
Even the Chelsea manager afterwards was good enough to admit it had been a close-run thing and Sunderland must now take encouragement from the display and look to keep those levels of performance up in the weeks ahead.
Read more in tonight’s Sunderland Echo.