Five games that show struggling Sunderland CAN beat Chelsea
Chelsea may arrive on Wearside tomorrow on the back of nine straight Premier League wins, but they won't necessary relish a visit to the Stadium of Light.
For Sunderland’s record against the Blues is the envy of most other teams in the top flight.
So is it really a racing certainty that Antonio Conte’s men will be celebrating the power of 10 come Thursday morning?
Here are five memorable meetings with Chelsea which offer Sunderland hope of springing a surprise.
May 7, 2016 - Sunderland 3-2 Chelsea, Premier League
Sunderland kicked off – surprise, surprise – desperate for a win, with only goal difference between them and the relegation zone, and the team below them – Newcastle – seemingly nailed on to win at Aston Villa.
But having suffered an awful defence of their Premier League title, Chelsea were on a mini revival under caretaker manager Guus Hiddink, and things looked bleak for Sam Allardyce’s team when Diego Costa gave the visitors a 14th-minute lead.
Sunderland responded in spectacular style through a 25-yard Wahbi Khazri volley, but – typically - let Chelsea regain the lead before half-time with some horrific defending gifting Nemanja Matic a goal.
But the Black Cats then showed some amazing second-half character, as goals from Fabio Borini and a 15th league strike of the season by Jermain Defoe sealed a 3-2 win.
The bonus back then? Newcastle drew 0-0 at Villa and Sunderland’s survival was close to guaranteed.
The bonus now? Most of the Sunderland players involved then will play tomorrow night.
April 19, 2014 - Chelsea 1-2 Sunderland, Premier League
The Black Cats were bottom of the Premier League and seemingly doomed with several tough games to come, while Chelsea were locked in a three-way title race with Manchester City and Liverpool.
Oh, and Jose Mourinho had also never lost a home league game in charge of the Blues.
Again, things didn’t start well for Sunderland, who fell behind early on to a scrappy Samuel Eto’o goal. But again, they responded swiftly, with Connor Wickham’s neat 18th-minute finish levelling things up.
Sunderland rode their luck from then on, with goalkeeper Vito Mannone producing a stellar performance, before a controversial penalty award decided things.
With eight minutes left, Cesar Azpilicueta was adjudged to have brought down Jozy Alitidore, and Fabio Borini calmly put away the spot kick to officially start Sunderland’s great escape from relegation.
November 14, 2010- Chelsea 0-3 Sunderland, Premier League
Another famous day for Sunderland at Stamford Bridge – and yet another game when Chelsea kicked off in pursuit of the title.
This time, Sunderland had begun the season well themselves, with 16 points from their first 12 games and a top seven place in the Premier League.
But they were also still licking their wounds from a derby hammering at Newcastle.
At Chelsea, the Black Cats took the lead on the stroke of half-time in the unlikeliest of ways – on-loan defender Nedum Onuoha dribbling past three players before scuffing a shot past Petr Cech.
Steve Bruce’s team then doubled their lead early in the second half when Asamoah Gyan finished off a fine team move, and a superb London awayday was rounded off when another loanee - Manchester United’s Danny Welbeck - latched onto to a shocking Ashley Cole pass to fire past Cech.
March 17, 2001- Chelsea 2-4 Sunderland, Premier League
Another away success, as Peter Reid’s side claimed a late season win at Stamford Bridge on their way to a second straight seventh-place Premier League finish.
Yet both teams came into this game in the top six and eyeing Europe.
Almost inevitably, Sunderland fell behind - Marcel Desailly scoring after quarter of an hour. And although Don Hutchison levelled things up briefly, the Wearsiders went in at half-time behind to an Eidur Gudjohnsen goal.
But whatever Reid said to – or screamed at – his players at the break got a thrilling reaction, with Hutchison tying things up for a second time in the 52nd minute, and then Gavin McCann’s strike on the hour mark making the comeback almost complete.
Almost, because not many Sunderland wins in this era came without a goal from Kevin Phillips – and he obliged with Sunderland’s fourth, 10 minutes from time.
What price Phillips’ fellow miniature maestro Jermain Defoe doing similar tomnorrow night?
December 4, 1999- Sunderland 4-1 Chelsea, Premier League
We finish with possibly the greatest half of football played by Sunderland in their near 20 years at the Stadium of Light.
Although the Black Cats began having only lost three of their first 16 games back in the top flight after promotion, one of those had been a 4-0 humbling on the season’s opening day - at Chelsea.
But the Blues fans who goaded the Wearside faithful before kick-off would soon be silenced - and mostly leave for home very early.
In only the first minute, Niall Quinn swept home from close range, before allowing partner-in-crime Phillips centre stage.
Superkev’s first of a first-half double - a stunning, dipping volley from 25 yards – is still regarded by many fans as the best goal Sunderland have scored at the SoL.
Quinn added his second with a volley of his own before half-time, with a consolation – from Gus Poyet, of all people – doing nothing to dampen the joyous mood on Wearside as Sunderland took the Premier League by storm.