Chelsea held at Sunderland, United and Arsenal win
By Ian Chadband
LONDON (Reuters) - Chelsea's seemingly irresistible march towards the title hit an unlikely roadblock at Sunderland on Saturday as they were held to a 0-0 draw having failed to score for the first time in their unbeaten Premier League season.
Jose Mourinho's side stretched their lead at the top to seven points but Sunderland's splendid resistance at the Stadium of Light at least scattered a few crumbs of hope for nearest pursuers Southampton and Manchester City, who meet on Sunday.
Chelsea's other floundering heavyweight rivals -- Manchester United, who beat Hull City 3-0, Arsenal, who won at West Bromwich Albion with a Danny Welbeck goal, and Liverpool, who beat Stoke City 1-0 despite dropping captain Steven Gerrard -- were also grateful for Sunderland's dogged effort.
Gus Poyet's Sunderland team, who have become rare pests for Mourinho as Chelsea's conquerors in last season's League Cup and the side which ended his 78-match unbeaten league record at Stamford Bridge, could even have pinched another win if Adam Johnson had not spurned two late chances.
Chelsea, nowhere near as sharp as in their midweek Champions League dismantling of Schalke 04, dominated proceedings but were held for the third time this term as they moved clear of second-placed Southampton and nine points ahead of champions City.
Mourinho, far from disappointed, felt it was a "a good point" against a Sunderland side which Poyet, a former Stamford Bridge favorite, reckoned had "defended for their lives".
"Only one team tried to win from the beginning, the other team didn't. They defended a lot and they defended well," said Mourinho. "Defending a lot and well is not a crime. They were successful in their approach."