Sunderland’s Zenden not shocked by Chelsea improvement

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BOLO Zenden is not surprised to see former club Chelsea rediscovering their form after their big hitters returned to the fold.

Sunderland helped to spark the worst Premier League run of the Roman Abramovich era at Chelsea when they won 3-0 at Stamford Bridge back in November.

Carlo Ancellotti’s men won just one of their subsequent eight games to effectively end their hopes of retaining the Premier League title.

But Chelsea impressed in their 4-0 victory at Europa League hopefuls Bolton last week with Frank Lampard and John Terry now back in the fold and Didier Drogba recovered from a bout of malaria.

Zenden believes such a resurgence was inevitable and says Sunderland must be braced for a stern test of their top six credentials at the Stadium of Light tonight.

“Obviously we had a fantastic result at Chelsea,” said Sunderland club captain Zenden, who spent three years at Stamford Bridge but misses out on tonight’s game with a knee injury,

“They’ve picked up their form a bit lately.

“We were more or less the first team to give them a hard time.

“Then they went on a bad run, but they’re picking up the points again now.

“The likes of Lampard and Terry are massively important for them and you can tell that by the results they’ve got.

“It’s always going to be a difficult game against them, let’s not kid ourselves. But playing at home we’ll be looking to get results.”

Sunderland lie four points adrift of Chelsea heading into tonight’s game although they do have some breathing space in the hunt for sixth spot.

Steve Bruce’s men are five points better off than seventh place Liverpool in the race to be first in line for any extra Europa League places which become available.

Zenden is delighted that Sunderland find themselves at the higher echelons of the table with 14 games to go.

But he realises the Black Cats must keep the score board ticking over during a tough run of seven games which sees Sunderland face four of the top five.

The 34-year-old said: “It’s good to be up there, it gives the fans something to cheer about and pushes us to look forwards rather than backwards.

“All in all we’re very pleased with where we are although there’s still a long way to go.

“We’ve got a little bit of breathing space although we know we’ve got some difficult ones coming up as well.

“The league is very tight and you take all the points you can get.

“It’s a case where you’ve got to take your chances when you can.”