Sunderland: Pickford, Jones, Djilobodji, Kone, Van Aanholt, Borini, Denayer, O'Shea, Kirchhoff, Januzaj, Defoe
Subs: Mannone, Love (for Jones 59', Asoro, Larsson (for Kirchhoff 57', Khazri (for Borini 82'), Maja, Honeyman
Chelsea: Courtois, Azplicueta, Luiz, Cahill, Moses, Kante Fabregas, Alonso, Willian, Costa, Pedro
Subs: Begovic, Ivanovic (for Moses 92'), Zouma, Chabolah (for Willian 89'), Matic (for Pedro 76'), Loftus-Cheek, Batshuayi
Cesc Fabregas handed Sunderland a second successive defeat as Chelsea managed a routine 1-0 victory at the Stadium of Light.
The Spaniard's quality first half finish allowed Chelsea to largely cruise to their tenth straight Premier League victory.
Despite Sunderland's inability to consistently trouble Chelsea they did manage to force Thibault Courtois into two outstanding saves. The Belgain international was exceptional first denying Adnan Januzaj at his near post, before a last minute save at full stretch stopped Patrick Van Aanholt rescuing Sunderland a crucial point.
The four time Premier League champions maintained their six point lead at the top of the division, whilst Sunderland remain rock bottom.
Sunderland looked comfortable containing Chelsea for large spells of a tepid first half.
Chelsea's best play early on came down Sunderland's right hand side with ex- Sunderland loanee Marcos Alonso squandering several excellent crossing opportunities.
The Wearsiders began to look more nervous as the half wore on, the home side continually struggled to retain possession. Jason Denayer and Jordan Pickford notably lacked composure on several occasions in the minutes leading up to the Blues opener.
Ultimately Chelsea's demoralising breakthrough came from nowhere. The league leaders were quicker to pounce on a loose ball in midfield, and on a rare occasion Sunderland's back five were exposed, Chelsea were clinical.
Willian's first time layoff set up Fabregas who accurately passed beyond Pickford from 20 yards. The Spaniard's first time side-footer was a moment of real quality and one you doubt any player in red and white would have been capable of.
Switching off criminally in first half stoppage time Sunderland were nearly punished further. Willian fired a whisker over from a ferocious free kick at the edge of the Wearsider's area. The set play was won by Diego Costa who had Lamine Kone back pedalling and was hauled down desperately by returning captain John O'Shea. The chance marked a rare first half moment when the home side had switched off.
Adnan Januzaj squandered a massive chance in the opening minutes of the second period, seeing his near post effort deflected wide by Thibault Courtois. The Belgian was slipped in behind the Chelsea defence by Jermain Defoe in Sunderland's first real attack of note.
A more aggressive positive start to the second half saw Sunderland living extremely dangerously. Willian nearly doubled Chelsea's lead seeing a powerful drive deflected onto the bar by Lamine Kone. His shot smashed off Kone's outstretched shin after the Brazilian showed excellent pace blowing by Kone and Papy Djilobodji.
Costa began to have a bigger influence as more space opened up for the Spanish international. The 28 year old forced Pickford to palm away his drive across goal, as he unsettled David Moyes's men with his direct running.
Further half-chances fell to Willian and Victor Moses who both failed to hit the target with speculative efforts after running at the increasingly vulnerable Black Cats back five.
The introduction of Nemanja Matic saw a change in mentality from Chelsea. Antonio Conte's team looked content at 1-0 and played with more of a five man defence limiting Sunderland largely to ineffective crosses in the full back areas.
Pickford was forced to scramble to deny Costa an open goal five minutes from time, the Chelsea marksman had got goalside of Kone and was looking to kill the game late, only for the England Under 21 stopped to claim the ball at his feet.
This contest will likely be remembered for a potentially season defining save for both teams. Courtois's reacts were instant to deny Van Aanholt, the Dutchman's crisp volley was heading into the bottom corner, but the 24 year old somehow diverted it wide. Sunderland's full back had done excellently latching onto the second ball after a half-cleared Sunderland free kick, shifting the ball onto his left foot, few keepers in the world would have denied him.