ESPN FC has changed the way its Premier League bloggers reflect on each game. Now the post-match musings take the form of player ratings – marks out of 10 followed by descriptions that are a bit longer than Rob Hutchison’s one-worders at Salut! Sunderland.
Monsieur Salut‘s report from the passionless corner of west London that is Stamford Bridge appears at http://www.espnfc.us/club/sunderland/366/blog/post/2764378/younes-kaboul-solid-for-sunderland-in-loss-at-chelsea. See if you agree with the ratings …
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Costel Pantilimon, 6 — A tall, commanding goalkeeper should be difficult to beat from the sort of header that Branislav Ivanovic scored in under five minutes. Pantilimon will be as disappointed as the defenders who failed to clear the danger. But the Romanian keeper was powerless to stop Pedro’s second and, though he conceded a penalty for the third, pulled off a string of fine saves to stop the scoreline mounting.
DF Billy Jones, 5 — Struggled against Chelsea’s pace and showed a weakness for clumsy challenges. His forward thrusts are enterprising but routinely lead to nothing.
DF Sebastian Coates, 5 — No more culpable than others in the Sunderland defence but was withdrawn early to make way for Adam Johnson, as Allardyce realised that a classic back four had the edge on a 5-3-1-1 system that allowed the midfield to be overrun.
DF John O’Shea, 6 — The skipper gave unstinting effort but his overall performance reflected the now customary mixture of discipline and error, with important interceptions and command of the heart of the defence marred by sloppiness and patchy distribution.
DF Younes Kaboul, 8 — A solid show, despite signs of being troubled by knocks and, perhaps, a hangover from recent illness. His tackling, heading, blocks and forward runs were impressive throughout.
DF Patrick van Aanholt, 6 — The Dutch wingback was fast and direct but had few opportunities until the second half to test the Chelsea right flank. He remains vulnerable to opposing attacks.
MF Ola Toivonen, 4 — Withdrawn at the interval after contributing little in Sunderland’s poor first half. How can such a tall man fail so regularly to win balls in the air?
MF Yann M’Vila, 7 — Generally assured and positive, with just the occasional lapse of concentration. M’Vila continues to ooze quality in almost everything he does.
MF Jack Rodwell, 6 — Rightly given a starting position after significant recent improvement, he was worryingly anonymous at times but still deserves more chances.
FW Duncan Watmore, 6 — Watmore showed his usual endeavour but there was no end product. Playing time at Premier level is invaluable to him, but the progression from youthful promise to Premier League quality is proving slow.
FW Jermain Defoe, 7 — Allardyce listened to the critics, played him from the start and — despite a poor first half, common to all Sunderland players — got himself into terrific positions in the second. He had chances that a younger, slightly sharper Defoe might have gobbled up.
MF Adam Johnson, 7 — Started brightly after replacing Coates in the 23rd minute, then faded as Sunderland settled to make sure the 2-0 scoreline did not get any worse. Was inspirational in much of what happened after the interval as Sunderland tried, with much spirit, to claw a way back into the game.
FW Fabio Borini, 7 — Replaced Toivonen at half-time. At fault on the third goal, as he was too easily beaten to the ball in a Sunderland attack, which rapidly turned into a Chelsea breakaway that ended with referee Roger East pointing to the penalty spot as Pantilimon barged into Willian. Borini then redeemed himself, bundling in Sunderland’s consolation goal and trying effortlessly to reduce the deficit further.
FW Danny Graham, NR — came on for Watmore in the 79th minute. Not enough time to make an impact.