Chelsea still title favourites despite being humbled by Sunderland
It looked like an odd call to televise Chelsea’s game with Sunderland given that the Blues had cantered to victory in their previous 11 at Stamford Bridge, however an inspired display from the Black Cats saw the champions suffer their heaviest home defeat since April 2002.
The leaders had been performing with less conviction as their fixtures got gradually harder but nobody could have predicted that a Sunderland team that had won once away since the opening day of 2009-10 and were without Darren Bent would net three without reply in west London.
Chelsea were admittedly hindered by the injury absence of Alex and John Terry, who have been in fine form this season and been a major factor in their run of nine successive clean sheets as hosts, and the fact Frank Lampard and Michael Essien were missing in midfield.
It doesn’t quite scan as an excuse though because they had each of their first-choice forwards – Florent Malouda, Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka – available from the start yet barely threatened throughout the 90 minutes.
If anything, the outcome could have been even worse, given that Branislav Ivanovic should have been sent off in the first half and Petr Cech made several brilliant saves, but Carlo Ancelotti’s men remain 8/11 favourites to retain the title.
Arsenal were the weekend’s big winners, as their 2-1 success away to Everton saw them close to within two points of their London rivals. They are still third in the betting pecking order at 7/2 to finish first though behind Manchester United.
The Red Devils recovery from 2-0 down at Villa Park now appears even more significant and like a point gained rather than two lost as they trail the table-toppers by three points.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side are 3/1 to claim their 19th English top-flight championship this season. See the full Barclays Premier League football betting odds here.