Jose Mourinho in search of Sunderland revenge
Jose Mourinho will attempt to overturn a landmark defeat when Premier League leaders Chelsea visit Sunderland this weekend.
London: Jose Mourinho will attempt to overturn a landmark defeat when Premier League leaders Chelsea visit Sunderland this weekend.
The last time the two clubs met was in April when Gus Poyet`s Sunderland`s side -- then rooted at the foot of the table -- pulled off a shock win at Stamford Bridge.
Defeat brought an end to Mourinho`s 77-game unbeaten home league run in two spells as Chelsea manager and helped derail the Blues title bid.
Mourinho`s side have not lost in the league since and last weekend`s one-sided dismissal of West Bromwich Albion helped extend the club`s lead at the head of the Premier League to six points after just 12 games.
The 5-0 victory at Schalke in midweek confirmed Chelsea`s place in the knockout stage of the Champions League and extended the Blues` unbeaten start to the season to 19 games in all competitions.
A demanding schedule between now and the turn of the year will test Mourinho`s squad, but with their main rivals regularly dropping points, it is hard to see their commanding lead being whittled away in the foreseeable future.
Unlike other leading Premier League clubs, Chelsea have managed to negotiate the opening months of the campaign without losing key players to long-term injury.
And defender Branislav Ivanovic said: "We are playing as a team at the moment. It`s still an early stage of the year and we know how many games we have to play until the end of the season to win trophies. We have games every three days now.
"At the moment we are very calm and everyone is thinking in the same direction," he added.
Cesc Fabregas had a hand in four of the goals that crushed Schalke and the Spain midfielder said he was playing the best football of his career following his close season switch from Barcelona.
"I am playing next to great players and they are playing very well and are helping me," the former Arsenal playmaker said. "We have a young, talented team and the mood at the training ground is great."Connor Wickham scored in Sunderland`s 2-1 win in west London seven months ago that helped them pull off their escape from relegation, and the former England Under-21 international insisted another surprise result shouldn`t be ruled out.
Poyet`s mid-table Black Cats face a tough run of fixtures heading into December, with defending champions Manchester City following the leaders in visiting the Stadium of Light.
"We know we can do it from our performances last year," Wickham said. "We just need to play the way we have been playing, and hopefully it`ll happen again.
"We had the same situation last season when we faced Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United in quick succession, but we managed to pull off something remarkable then."
Sunderland have lost just three times in the league this season. But seven draws leaves them too close to the relegation zone for comfort.
Wickham added: "We`ve probably had too many draws which we could have won."
Former Chelsea midfielder Poyet is relishing his latest meeting with the Blues after helping the club lift the FA Cup and European Cup Winners` Cup during a successful four-year spell following his arrival at Stamford Bridge in 1997.
The Sunderland head coach said: "I had a great time there, but my focus is fully on Sunderland. It will be nice to catch up with a few old friends, but as soon as the game kicks-off, I won`t see anything other than our red and white."