Last Updated: 14/01/12 4:54pm
And that's it! Frank Lampard's first-half goal proves to be decisive as Chelsea hang on for the 1-0 victory. Thanks for joining me this afternoon, I'm Ryan Gordon and here's wishing you a pleasant remainder of your weekend. Cheers people.
Sunderland can have no complaints if they lose this one, cause my word they have had plenty of chances today. Nicklas Bendtner is the latest to waste one of those, sending his effort wide of the mark from just a few feet out.
The fourth official raises his board and shows there will be three minutes of time to be added on at the end. Is there to be a twist in the tale?
Golden chance for the visitors to snatch a point here as Sessegnon dances his way past three Chelsea defenders before picking out Craig Gardner, but the substitute gets his shot all wrong and blazes wide.
The shots are coming in thick and fast for Chelsea now as Meireles gets on the end of Ramires' pull-back, but the midfielder can't keep his head down and the ball fizzes wide of the mark.
The Blues have a corner here late on. Meireles drives it in but it doesn't beat the first man who hammers the ball away to safety.
Petr Cech's turn now to impress as the Chelsea goalkeeper also needs his fingertips to push away Larsson's shot from the angle.
Meireles goes for the sublime with a delicious chipped effort from some 25-yards out, but Mignolet just manages to back-track before tipping the ball over the post.
Juan Mata has been lively for the Blues today, but he's played his last part here as he is replaced by Salomon Kalou.
David Luiz has his pockets picked by Larsson, who turns and looks to send McClean on his way, but Bosingwa is alive to the danger and manages to steal back possession.
Both sides are guilty of some sloppy passing at the moment, and a series of errors almost leads to a Sunderland equaliser, but Larsson's ball into the area evades his team-mates and the defence can clear.
The visitors made a change just before that moment, with Connor Wickham coming on for Kieran Richardson.
A chance for Bendtner in the area now, but his header is deflected out for a corner. Sebastian Larssen floats it in, but Petr Cech is out and plucks the ball form the air.
Essien is working really hard to mark his return with a goal, and he gets off a shot from close-range, but the whistle goes for off-side.
The Black Cats finally get a foot on the ball and look to forge their own attack, but Nicklas Bendtner fluffs a routine forward pass and the hosts regain control of the ball.
Another shot by Mata now, but another woeful miss as he drags his effort wide from the edge of the area. I'm trying to remember when last the visitors got more than one touch of the ball.
Patients has been the name of the game for Chelsea today, and they demonstrate more of that as they spread the ball from left to right and back again. They eventually push forward through Mata, but the midfielder over runs the ball and the defence are able to clear.
The playmaker's first involvement is a low drive from quite far out, but the ball was always curling away from goal and Mignolet is untroubled.
Michael Essien is about to run out for Chelsea for the first time since May as he comes on for Frank Lampard. Rapturous applause from the home fans as the midfielder takes to the pitch.
Chelsea are hovering just outside of the Sunderland area, but they can't find much of a way through at the moment, which has left the home supporters vocally frustrated.
Ramires wins a free-kick in a really dangerous area, but the Chelsea man is none too happy about the challenge. Mata lines himself up behind the set piece, but his effort is wild and flies well over.
Fernando Torres is really leading the Chelsea attack this afternoon, and he again breaks forward with real purpose before releasing Mata, but the midfielder is off-side.
McClean has the chance to make up for his earlier miss after finding himself on-side in the Chelsea area, but his first touch lets him down and David Luiz is able to clear.
Fernando Torres goes down inside the area again, and this time the referee does blow his whistle, but it's only to book the player for simulation. The Spaniard looks perplexed, and replays show there was clear contact made by Bardsley. Again the visitors are let off the hook.
Martin O'Neill's posture on the sidelines tells you all about that miss, with the Sunderland manager grabbing at his hair in frustration. Still, they're creating chances, and with the score still only at 1-0 the visitors will always be in with a shout.
Sunderland really should be level as Sebastian Larsson is played in behind the defence before he drives down the by-line, but McClean can't ge tthe proper contact on the cut-back and the chance goes begging.
Kieran Richardson looks to influence the game and looks to have a pop from 30-yards out, but his shot is blocked on the edge of the area by a very brave Frank Lampard.
Sunderland have a free-kick in the opposition half and push bodies into the area. The delivery is not too bad, but Jose Bosingwa is in the right place and thumps his header out for a throw-in.
Mr Howman has more to say. He writes: Hello Ryan. Chelsea cannot rest on a 1 goal lead. We need to score 2 more. Torres is working his socks off. With the best of luck hopefully he can put one away. AVB needs to put on another attacker.
Sunderland are starting to push more bodies forward now, and David Vaughan almost draws the sides level, but his swerving drive curls just wide of Petr Cech's post.
That decision seems to have raised the pressure inside Stamford Bridge, and Lee Cattermole goes into the referee's book for a dangerous tackle from behind on Frank Lampard.
Unbelievable decision from the referee now who waves away Chelsea appeals for a penalty after Fernando Torres was brought down inside the area. It looked a pretty clear foul, but the referee is not interested and waves play on. Real let off for the visitors.
Almost a calamitous mistake from Simon Mignolet who fumbles a routine save inside the area, but luckily for the goalkeeper he had a defender on the line who managed to hoof clear the loose ball.
A sloppy pass from Romeu concedes possession to the visitors, but the home defence get back quickly and the chance is gone.
Mata goes for the spectacular with a volley inside the area, but he can't get over the ball and scuffs his effort wide of the mark.
Torres is still working tirelessly out there, and the Span international stings the palms of Simon Mignolet with a driven shot from a very tight angle.
Patient build up down the right by the Blues, but Juan Mata's attempted through-ball for Bosingwa is over-hit and the defender is able to shield the ball out for a goal-kick.
More of the same in terms of possession for Chelsea, who look cool, calm and collected when on the ball.
James McClean sends Sunderland on their first attack of the second period, dribbling his way down the line before winning a throw-in. The visitors keep the ball moving and Sessegnon tries his luck with a volley from outside the area, but he shoots straight at Petr Cech who gathers comfortably.
Tom Murphy, a Chelsea fan from Basingstoke, writes in: I think that Chelsea still need to up their game. Where's the Chelsea who scored 100 plus goals a few seasons ago. I feel that there will be a big signing other than Gary Cahill later this month despite what the media are suggesting. We need a player with a spark, who can change games. Hope to see a goal or two in the second half. Sunderland are a dangerous team. We cannot sit on a 1-0 lead.
Chelsea press for a second here at the end of the half, but they can't find a way though the Black Cats defence, who then set the visitors away on their own attack. There's plenty of passes being made in the movement, but the referee's whistle brings an end to the opening 45 minutes. Join me after the break for the second-half at Stamford Bridge.
The break for treatment means we will have three minutes of added time here at the end of the half. We're already into the first of those minutes.
We'll have a break in play here now as Kilgallon stays down after apparently rolling his ankle. The Black Cats physio is taking his time here, and the signs don't look too good for the defender as the stretcher is brought onto the field.
Petr Cech gets a rare touch of the ball, although he needs barely leave the ground as he collects a floated ball inside the area.
One moment the Blues are passing the ball around at the back, and the next they break forward with just three passes, resulting in a stinging drive from Torres which flashes wide of the mark. Deadly precision in the build up by the home side.
Fernando Torres is becoming more and more involved in the action. Looks like he's going to be in for a frustrating day though as his path to goal is being denied at every turn just at the moment.
Inches wide of an equaliser for Sunderland as Lee Cattermole feeds Bendtner through in the area, but the former Arsenal man rolls his shot agonisingly wide of the post.
Corner to Sunderland here as once more they break on the counter after Lampard had been robbed of possession in the middle of the park. Nicklas Bendtner is the targeet at the far post, but the corner has too much on it and the Dutchman is forced to go out wide. The Blues defence are quick to clsoe him down though and the ball is knocked out of play.
Mata looks to catch the visitors napping and tries to latch on to a long ball over the top, but Mignolet is aware to the danger and is quick off his line to smother the danger.
Another impressive move from Chelsea now as they work the ball out wide to Meireles who whips the ball over for Fernando Torres, but again the striker is denied as his header is cleared off the line.
Sunderland seem to have lost that early spring in their step, and they're playing backwards more than forwards just at the moment.
Free-kick to the home side in a really promising position as Luiz is brought down on the edge of the area. Mata lines up behind this one, and his effort brings out a fine diving save from Simon Mignolet. The ball looked to be going in, but i think the goalkeeper was just showing off for the cameras there.
Chelsea are playing the ball around with some authority at the moment, but Juan Mata breaks the flow with a rasping shot from outside the area, but Bardsley puts in a brave block to thwart the midfielder. David Luiz is behind the follow-up, but his blazes well wide.
Another well-constructed counter from the visitors who break down the right through Richardson, who again delivers into the Blues area, but Nicklas Bendtner is out-jumped at the far-post and the defence clears.
Torres is working really hard at the moment and comes back well into his own half to win the ball for his side. He's got a lot to prove in the next few weeks, the Spaniard.
Martin O'Neill is encouraging his front two to close down the Chelsea defenders with more urgency. John Terry & Co have been afforded far too much space in the opening stage of the half
Sunderland look to be playing the counter attack today, but the home defence are quick to get back every time the ball is lost. Still, there are some promising signs in the visitors' movements.
The home side are stroking the ball around quite comfortably at the moment, but a spot of mis-control from Ashley Cole allows the Black Cats to nip in.
Back-to-back corners for Chelsea now, but on both occasions the threat is not too real and the defenders are easily able to clear.
Sunderland go in search of a response and they almost get one through Bendtner, but the Dane can't get enough power on his header after Larsson had crossed a dangerous ball into the area.
GOAL! It's taken just 13 minutes and Chelsea are in front, and in some comical manner too. Mata flights a delightful ball to the far-post where Fernando Torres produces a sublime overhead-kick, and although his effort crashes off the bar, it rebounds into Frank Lampard who doesn't know much about it but still manages to direct the ball homewards.
Raul Meireles concedes possession in the middle of the pitch, but Nicklas Bendtner gets his touch all wrong and the Blues are able to regain control of the ball.
Chelsea are quick to push bodies up the park, and Ashley Cole sets up Fernando Torres with a wonderful curling delivery, but the World Cup winner can't direct his header which bounces just wide of the post.
Sebastian Larsson drills it in at the near post, but Petr Cech gets a strong punch on the ball and the danger is cleared.
First booking of the match and it goes the way of David Luiz who is late with his challenge on Nicklas Bendtner. Free kick in a dangerous area here for the visitors...
Patient play from the Blues who look to bring the game to their pace, but as I write that Frank Lampard plays a hasty ball over the top and the possession is gone.
Really promising signs from the visitors in the early stages, and David Vaughan whips in a dangerous ball, but there's no one there in a Sunderland shirt and the hosts can mop up.
Chelsea threaten up at the other end as Bosingwa picks out John Terry with a curling ball from the edge of the area, but the Blues skipper can't find the target at heads well over.
So close to a Sunderland opener here now they break down the right through Richardson who cuts the ball back across goal, but Jose Bosingwa does enough to put Nicklas Bendtner off his shot.
First touch for Petr Cech, but it's only to gather John Terry's cushioned header following a monstrous goal-kick from Simon Mignolet.
The Black Cats go straight on the front foot and put together a string of decent passes, but they eventually concede possession on the edge of the Chelsea area, and the hosts can now push forward for the first time.
Stuart Howman writes in: Hello, I think it's a great selection AVB has selected. He has put Torres out on the left which is interesting. With his confidence low at the moment, I think putting him on the left could leave us with something special. I think it will be 2 - 0 today with Torres and mata both on the scoresheet.
Here come the two sets of players out the tunnels led by their respective captains. Phil Dowd is the man in charge today, and we're just minutes away from the first blow of the whistle.
Martin would like to butt in quickly: Hi Ryan, i think today will be a win for Chelsea i am optimistic this time around and i think with Ramires playing more as a winger will bring plenty of problems for Sunderland today. We all wish the best for Torres too he some luck and it seems most of his shots on goal have been saved by some outstanding saves. Today might be his lucky day. I am going for 3-0 home win. Martin Butt.
We're less than 10 minutes from the kick-off now and the Stamford Bridge crowd are in fine voice. Let's hope the football out there today is as enthusiastic.
The Sunderland fans are starting to sing: A probable chelsea win today but if we can keep it tight we might be able to sneak it on the break with the quality of sessegnon and larrsson!!! COME ON SUNDERLAND. regards rob o.
A Sky Bet tip sheet has just come across my desk, and Sunderland have been put at 7/1 to shock the Premier League title hopefuls today. There's no time like the present, people!
Chilling statistic here, and the Black Cats fans might actually want to avert their eyes: Chelsea have won 13 of their last 14 games against Sunderland, netting a total of 40 goals. Ouch.
Barry says: Hi Ryan. I really hope Torres gets a run in the team now that Drogs is away. I believe he needs it and will come good for us. Him to score today and CFC to win, but only just. Barry CFC fan.
Rayhan from Birmingham is the first to make his voice heard, and he's thoroughly pleased with the Chelsea line-up. He writes: Superb team selection by Andre Villas-Boas. Ramires has been quite the sensation this season, an entirely fresh revelation on that right side of front three playing as a winger. Torres will enjoy his company since Ramires is much more selfless compared to Mr Daniel Selfish Sturridge.
With Didier Drogba away with the Ivory Coast preparing for the Africa Cup of Nations, goal scoring responsibilities at Chelsea will be weighing heavily on Fernando Torres' shoulders, and our friends at Sky Bet have put the Spaniard at 4/1 to open the scoring, while the Blues are 2/5 to claim the victory.
For the Black Cats, Wes Brown fails to overcome a groin injury he picked up against Manchester United and misses out, but his former United and current Sunderland team-mate John O'Shea starts.
So it appears Gary Cahill's proposed move to Chelsea will not go ahead today, but the Blues do welcome Michael Essien back on the bench following his six-month layoff with a knee injury.
Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Luiz, Terry, Cole, Lampard, Romeu, Meireles, Ramires, Torres, Mata Subs: Turnbull, Essien, Malouda, Lukaku, Sturridge, Hutchinson, Bertrand
Sunderland: Mignolet, Bardsley, Kilgallon, O'Shea, Richardson, Larsson, Cattermole, Vaughan, McClean, Sessegnon, Bendtner Subs: Westwood, Turner, Gardner, Wickham, Ji, Meyler, Elmohamady
I'll be bringing you all the team news shortly, but why not first get involved by sending your thoughts, predictions or footballing whatevers to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll share your winged words with the whole world.
However, the Black Cats are sure to prove a staunch test for the London outfit, with new manager Martin O'Neill having led the team to their current five-match unbeaten streak.
With Arsenal and Liverpool snapping at the Blues' heels, only the three points will appease manager Andre Villas-Boas, whose side start the day in the final Champions League qualifying position.