Up until a couple weeks ago, it seemed as if Chelsea were going to run away with the Premier League title (even the Special One chimed in all the way from Madrid to that effect!), as they rolled through the first 10 games of the season: 8 wins (a few of them blowouts), a draw, and a hard-fought 1-0 loss to Man City. Then came a surprising 2-0 loss to Liverpool. Perhaps that could be explained away: the game was away at Anfield Park, Liverpool is actually a “big club” (according to tradition if not the current table), and Fernando Torres suddenly rediscovered his scoring touch. But after yesterday’s shocking result–a 3-0 loss at home to Sunderland!–Chelsea no longer looks invincible, and we have at least a 3-horse race for the title.
Sunderland had performed doggedly but modestly through their first 9 games–2 wins, 1 loss…and 6 ties. Then came an embarrassing 5-1 loss against their rivals Newcastle. That’s the kind of loss that can derail a season–but they bounced back with a win against Stoke City and a draw against Spurs last week. Still, no one expected them to go into Stamford Bridge and dominate the mighty Blues.
An odd Sunderland stat: all of their mere 10 goals in the 12 games prior to yesterday had been scored by only 2 players: Darren Bent and Asamoah Gyan. But that changed yesterday, as Nedum Onuoha waltzed through the Chelsea defense to score first for Sunderland, and Danny Welbeck finished nicely for their third. (Onuoha, incidentally, is a 24-year-old defender, born in Nigeria and raised in Manchester, on loan to Sunderland from Man City. Welbeck is a 20-year-old winger/striker, born in England to Ghanaian parents, on loan from Man Utd. Both have appeared for England’s U21 team–we may see them in the future for the senior squad.)
But in between those two goals, Gyan got his fourth goal in the past three games–he’d scored all of Sunderland’s goals in their games against Stoke and Spurs. (In fact, these have been the first three starts of Gyan’s nascent Premier League career, as Bent had been starting ahead of him until he went down with an injury. It’ll be interesting to see if Sunderland manager Steve Bruce finds a way to get them both on the field from the beginning, once Bent recovers.)
And so Gyan did his dance at Stamford Bridge–a dance we may be seeing in England with some regularity in the future, if Gyan can keep up this sort of finishing. See all three goals here:
We’ll also be watching to see if Sunderland’s Dutch journeyman midfielder Bolo Zenden (previously at PSV, Barcelona, Chelsea, Middlebrough, Liverpool and Marseille!) gets better at doing the Gyan dance himself. It was Zenden who started to that play from left wing (scroll back to 1:19 in the video above), then raced to join Gyan in the corner after the scor–and unexpectedly started doing the dance himself; unfortunately we only get a split-second of that in the video above (~1:43).
But it didn’t go unnoticed–the BBC Match of the Day commentators spend some time analyzing Zenden’s moves:
Stay tuned for upcoming posts about Bolo Zenden–including his previous goal-celebration fails! (Yes, fails, in the plural.)