Sunderland again proved a scourge for Chelsea when holding the Premier League leaders to a 0-0 draw at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
Jose Mourinho’s men had scored in every league match this season, yet could not find a way through against the team who handed them their last domestic defeat.
The pre-match expectation was for Chelsea, six points clear of their nearest challengers at kick-off, to collect an 11th win from 13 league outings.
Yet Sunderland, who triumphed 2-1 at Stamford Bridge in April, more than held their own for long periods.
The best chances were split in the opening half, Willian and Santiago Vergini each hitting the woodwork.
Sunderland had the better opportunities after the break and Chelsea – who seemed fortunate not to be reduced to 10 men when Diego Costa was only booked for an apparent elbow on Wes Brown – will have been relieved to leave with their unbeaten record intact.
The early signs were ominous for the home side as Chelsea knocked the ball around with the confidence of a side topping the standings.
Yet Sunderland, driven by a raucous crowd and the tough-tackling Lee Cattermole, began to find a foothold in the game, epitomised by Connor Wickham curling an effort just over the crossbar.
That was a rare journey forward for the inhibited hosts in the openin