United old-boys try in vain to help former side


A resurgent Chelsea came from behind to defeat Sunderland 4-2 on a ground which has been a fortress for the Black Cats, only losing to Manchester United in May last year.

Arsenal also fought-back from a goal-down to keep the heat on Red Devils United who equalled the results by disposing of Aston Villa last night in an entertaining encounter.

It was former United players who tried to aid their former employers by opening the scoring, first Phil Bardsley for Sunderland who was allowed time and space to slot in from distance.

Then at the Emirates, former United hitman Louis Saha broke the deadlock with a controversial goal which was deemed offside by the majority of the home faithful. But referee Lee Mason and his assistant took no notice and the goal stood.

After Chelsea got themselves back into the game through a Lampard penalty it was another ex-United player, Kieran Richardson, who brought the game level with an inch-perfect free-kick much to the delight of the Sunderland faithful.

The clash between at the Stadium of Light between Chelsea and Sunderland came too early for Chelsea new boys Fernando Torres and David Luiz.  After witnessing Chelsea’s defensive frailties, it will be Luiz who will be fast-tracked into the starting line-up with fellow Brazilian centre-back Alex still out injured.

Until John Terry struck in the 60th minute and Anelka crowned a superb individual display with a delighftul goal in second-half stoppage time, Chelsea appeared to be in serious danger. Terry was hesitant against a vibrant, fast-moving Sunderland attack – a clear sign that he was not in peak physical condition when he pulled on his boots. When it comes to organising his team for what promises to be a fascinating clash with Liverpool on Sunday, Ancelotti is unlikely to drop Terry. It is more likely he will move Branislav Ivanovic back to right back and deploy Luiz alongside Terry. But it will be interesting to see the Serbian’s reaction as he has publicly expressed his desire to play in his favoured position alongside Terry.

How Ancelotti then accommodates Torres will be more interesting to see, but we were probably given an insight into his plans here. Anelka was deployed in the hole behind Didier Drogba and Kalou and the France forward was absolutely outstanding, scoring one goal and creating another.

After Saha had put the visitors ahead on 24 minutes, the away side dominated with Arsenal struggling to recover; giving away possession and generally seeming uninterested. However, the Gunners turned the match around through substitute Andrey Arshavin and Laurent Koscielny’s header. The Gunners made some 10 changes from the side which had laboured to a 2-1 win over Huddersfield in the FA Cup on Sunday. And it was Everton – who have lost only six matches, but find themselves in the lower half of the table because of some 12 draws – who started brightly. With Diniyar Bilyaletdinov offering support to both Saha in attack and then making up the numbers in midfield, it was easy to see why David Moyes’ men are hard to beat. Everton continued to make all the running during the opening exchanges.

Arsenal finally got some passing together as Bacary Sagna was played in down the right, only to be chopped down by Sylvain Distin who was immediately shown a yellow card by Lee Mason. Arsenal and Chelsea were desperate not to lose further ground on United as the Old Trafford club hold a five and ten point lead over the London sides respectively.

With United yet to face Chelsea this season, the proposed double-header between the sides in May could determine where the title ends up this season.

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