clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Fan Focus: Blues Views Ahead Of Chelsea Visit

We spoke to Graham MacAree of Chelsea blog We Ain't Got No History to get his thoughts on Mourinho, Mata and coming up against a former Blues' favourite, Gus Poyet.

Jamie McDonald

Chelsea come into this fixture on the back of a hard earned victory over Southampton. Was the performance in that game indicative of Chelsea's season as a whole?

Graham MacAree: I hope so: a difficult and somewhat indifferent start followed by a turnaround and, ultimately, an easy win doesn't so bad to me so far. Unfortunately we've only really managed the difficult and somewhat indifferent start bit. It's not been bad, really, but the season's not exactly been a roaring success either. Yet.

Juan Mata played a key role in turning the game on it's head. What's your view on his situation?

GA: This is the first serious game this year in which Juan Mata has actually played well. It's easy to claim that he should always be playing for Chelsea, but the fact of the matter is that he's been ineffective when he's been on the pitch. Since he doesn't defend, Mata's actually always struggled to make an impact when the other team's in control of the game, so his form probably has had as much to do with the team playing badly as with him, but it's difficult to see how, at this point, he should be an automatic starter. He needs/needed to step it up when given the chance and until the Southampton game that hadn't happened.

As well as the way he has handled Mata, what's the verdict on Mourinho's return in general up to now?

GA: It's been pretty good. There are certainly some decisions I don't agree with -- the Romelu Lukaku loan is weird, and the lack of Kevin de Bruyne is concerning -- but Chelsea are in touch with the league leaders going into the winter, which hasn't been the case for the past two years, and they're also into the Champions League knockout rounds. The performances haven't always been there, but that's true of every team in England this season, so it's difficult to get too upset about it. He's done fine.

Chelsea certainly appear to have strength in depth in their squad. Do you expect Mourinho to make significant changes from this weekend's win for Wednesday's trip to the North East?

GA: I hope he makes more changes than he did against Basel. Squad rotation is tough; you don't want to break up a winning side but you also can't field tired players and expect the same level of performance. I think we'll see a few new names in, but I'm not sure who or really how many. Mourinho's been unpredictable thus far.

Chelsea's is an impressive squad littered with star names. Who should Sunderland fans fear the most from it?

GA: Since Oscar picked up a knock on Sunday, I'll go with. Eden Hazard. He's not been brilliant so far this year, but he's still scoring goals left and right and giving defences some serious problems. You need two or three defenders to stop his runs, and that means everyone else has a little more space. And if you don't commit more players to make him, he'll completely open up your back line.

While Chelsea have hopes of winning the title, it's all about survival here on Wearside. What's your take on Sunderland's predicament? Do you think we'll stay up?

GA: It's hard to say, although I'd guess that Sunderland will manage to escape. Although the start of the season was bad, you're only five points from safety and if you go on a good run while even one of your rivals has it rough, suddenly you're in excellent shape to survive the drop. Paolo Di Canio's sacking looks like it was perfectly timed to get things going right again.

Things have improved under ex Chelsea man Gus Poyet at least. Any thoughts on him as a manager?

GA: I've been hoping Poyet gets a chance in the Premier League for a while now, and it's not just because I enjoyed seeing him play for the Blues. When he was with Brighton, it was obvious from reading his interviews that he had a very good grasp on tactics and man-management. That doesn't always lead to success, but he deserves the opportunity to prove himself.

Is there anyone from our not quite as impressive squad that you fear?

GA: Steven Fletcher can do a lot of damage even if Sunderland are struggling to impose themselves on the game, so I'd guess that most of the danger will come from him. I also fear that Phil Bardsley will try to hurt one of our players because he keeps doing that.

Finally, a score prediction please?

GA: 3-1 Chelsea. Sorry, but this good run in the league will last a little while longer. Or so I hope.

Our thanks go to Graham for taking the time give us his insight ahead of tomorrow's match. Follow him on Twitter @MacAree and check out more of his writing over at We Ain't Got No History.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Roker Report Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Sunderland news from Roker Report