Sunderland could upset Chelsea's title bid, says David Jones
Don't be surprised if Sunderland upset Chelsea's Premier League title charge, says David Jones.
Last Updated: 19/04/14 10:02pm
Next Sunday's game between the top two looks like the game that will decide everything, but it doesn't always work out like that.
Manchester City would have expected to be in the frame too, but who could have imagined they would drop points at home to the league's bottom club Sunderland? And now the Black Cats head to Stamford Bridge wondering if they can derail another title contender.
It would seem unlikely, especially given that Jose Mourinho remains unbeaten in the Premier league at home as Chelsea manager. And given that since Javier Hernandez scored in Manchester United's losing cause at Chelsea way back on January 19, no other visiting team has managed to find a way past Petr Cech.
And also given Sunderland haven't won any of their last nine games, and the point they earned at the Etihad was their first in six games.
But...but...there are just one or two factors that make the result of Saturday night's game uncertain.
We saw evidence again on Wednesday night that Sunderland do have the habit of raising their game to play the division's better teams: five of their six wins in this rotten season have come against teams in the top half.
They troubled Liverpool in the second half at Anfield, won at Goodison Park, and took the lead at White Hart Lane (though what happened after that is probably best forgotten).
Perhaps now, with relegation seemingly a certainty, Gus Poyet's side will be able to play with a freedom that we've only seen from them in cup competitions.
And perhaps Connor Wickham's goals will take him to a level not yet seen in a red-and-white shirt - remember he, like most of Poyet's squad, is playing for his future.
The other consideration is the momentous games for Chelsea that follow Sunderland's visit.
As soon as the full-time whistle blows on Saturday night, their focus will switch to a Champions League semi-final first leg away to Atletico Madrid - then they'll return home to prepare for the trip to Anfield on Sunday, before the task of seeing off Atletico at Stamford Bridge the following Wednesday.
Mourinho will want his best team available for those games; his best players will want to play in those games. It's up to him to make sure his team are focused and ready for the next game and, sadly for Sunderland, they usually are.