With Sunderland languishing near the foot of the table and with Chelsea newly revived under Claudio Ranieri, it was no surprise that an enterprising person tried to postpone the game by flicking the switch at the Stadium of Light.
Pre-match descended into chaos as a power blackout saw the queues at the turnstiles rapidly becoming queues at public phone boxes. You can tell who wears the trousers in the north east.
Unlike last year when we came up here with our reserves and received a real spanking, this time we put out our full first team.
Nothing else would do as this is a ground with noise as loud as you will hear anywhere – and that was just the Chelsea fans. Still, the first half was one-way traffic with Sunderland completely dominating the play. We looked completely inept and only an imperious display from Desailly
stopped us going into the break two or three goals down.
The second half saw Flo come on for Hasselbaink and at last we started imposing ourselves on the game. But a ridiculous foul by Melchiot on Quinn – which allowed Phillips to ram home a penalty – coupled with Le Saux’s dismissal saw everything rapidly go pear shaped.
A 300-mile journey following an away defeat is never easy and the only solace was knowing that Sunderland will find Stamford Bridge a very, very different proposition.