Chelsea managed to hold off a spirited Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Wednesday evening, coming out 4-3 winners after a hugely entertaining match.
In a game of endless attacking raids from both sides, Chelsea were ultimately indebted to some brilliant individual play from Eden Hazard, and a strength of character particularly inherent to Jose Mourinho’s teams.
The Blues stay second in the Premier League, and remain four points behind London rivals Arsenal.
Here are the Chelsea Player Ratings vs Sunderland:
Petr Cech: 6/10
Despite conceding three, the big Czech could not be faulted for any of them. He was beaten every time from close range, after the Sunderland attackers were afforded too much time and space in the Blues box.
Branislav Ivanovic: 6/10
The 29-year-old hardly ever has a bad game; and he arguably kept that up against the Black Cats, even though his side shipped three. Ivanovic tirelessly bombarded down the flank, impressed with crosses, and seemed to always be there when needed.
Gary Cahill: 5/10
The England man was unconvincing on Wednesday night, as Gus Poyet’s side enjoyed far too much room in the box. Altidore was a handful for him; and he failed to prevent Phil Bardsley scoring Sunderland’s third.
John Terry: 5/10
‘JT’ also had an off-night. Along with Cahill, he could not contain Altidore; and allowed the American to swivel and score the first goal of the game.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 5/10
The Spaniard has been mightily impressive on the unorthodox left side in recent weeks, but looked limited on Wednesday, and could drop to the bench for the trip to Stoke at the weekend.
A very impressive show from the wiry Brazilian; Ramires was up and down the pitch as if a swimmer doing endless lengths in a pool. Often going on slaloming runs, he was a real threat throughout.
One big criticism of Ramires is that his final ball is often over-hit, or wayward; but that is in general, and not a particular reflection on his performance on Wednesday.
Frank Lampard: 8/10
Still dropping the shoulder to great success, Lampard’s distribution was as accurate as ever. Despite his slow speed, he is the master of retaining possession. Was given all the space in the world to leap up and nod Chelsea level; and provided a neat back-heel for Hazard’s second.
Juan Mata: 7/10
The reigning Chelsea player of the year (just a reminder) started his second consecutive match against the Black Cats; but was not at his devastating best. Still, with a pass completion ratio of 87% from 79 touches, he kept things ticking over nicely.
Came off late on for Mikel.
As per his aforementioned Spanish teammate, Willian also kept things flowing on Wednesday. I thought the attacking triumvirate of Hazard, Mata and Willian was excellent; and despite the brilliance of Oscar in recent weeks, Willian’s power and pace warrants an extended run in the first team.
Came off late for Andre Schurrle.
Eden Hazard: 9/10
A fantastic display from the Belgian flyer; Hazard bagged two, and set up Lampard with a super little cross in the first half.
Certainly his best display since his move to Stamford Bridge in 2012; Hazard made 12 successful dribbles, had four shots on target, and had a pass completion of 91% from 85 touches, as he terrorised the Sunderland defence from start to finish.
Fernando Torres: 5/10
Showed some good touches, and played some nice passes; but Torres was once again haunted by an inability to put the ball in the net. Missed two glorious chances, with the second particularly awful, and seems no closer to breaking through his debilitating condition.
Came off on the hour mark for Demba Ba.