We persuaded ourselves a double was possible. Sadly, after a pulsating first half in which Sunderland played a full part in the entertainment, Chelsea simply proved too strong for us …
Gary Bennett, on BBC Radio Newcastle, was very worried as the early part of the second half saw Chelsea “banging on the door”, as he put it, almost at will.
It was 2-2. But seconds later
Lampard – sorry, John Terry – got their third. What had seemed a good and even game in the first half was suddenly looking beyond us. The goal had clearly been coming. It was very nearly followed soon afterwards by another, each post saving us in turn.
We’d scored the better goals, another Bardsley superstrike and Kieran Richardson’s sweet-if-he-meant-it free kick; theirs were the sort no Premier League team should really concede, a totally unnecessary aerial challenge by Elmohamady giving the Blues their penalty equaliser, a defensive mix-up allowing Kalou to put them ahead.
But as if to vindicate those of us who felt the failiure to bring in a striker was decidedly risky, we showed over and again that we had insufficient punch.
A look at the bench offered no comfort. There were no serious options. It may be better against feebler opposition, but not against a Chelsea quite determined to avenge the 3-0 humiliation we inflicted on them earlier in the season.
There was a lot of pushing forward, moments when we thought a draw might be possible. But when a sixth goal of the game came, it was not altogether surprising that the scorer was Anelka and not Gyan or, er, Gyan or, er, Gyan.
Losing 4-2 at home to a team of Chelsea’s calibre is no disgrace and no calamity. Good performances at Stoke and at home to Tottenham would make our season look great again.
But until Welbeck and/or Campbell return from injury, we look short of firepower, especially for a team that seemed to have it in abundance only a short time ago. Maybe Stephane Sessegnon needs to become an out-and-out striker. Unless Phil Bardsley fancies a run up front.