Sunderland 0–0 Chelsea
Chelsea were held to a draw by Sunderland's six-man defence, though the hosts came close to taking all three points.
In a game that could well have gone either way, it was Chelsea who showed the most ambition – but Sunderland who were probably the better organised of the two.
Willian hit the post with a low right footer early in proceedings, but Santiago Vergini's glancing shot off the bar was the first really impressive chance on 35 minutes. But for the most part the half was an uninspiring chess game, largely hampered as a spectacle by the hosts' preference for a six-man defence.
Chelsea were also somewhat off the boil – looking like suffering the post-European blues. As the half came to a close, a confrontation between Diego Costa and John O'Shea saw both player clatter the other unlawfully with their boot – referee Kevin Friend ordering no punishment, except that they kiss and make-up.
Come the break, the only real victor in the scrap was Sunderland assistant boss Mauricio Taricco, who had earlier been sent to the stands for apparently giving ear-ache to the fourth official.
Gary Cahill went close with a header from a corner after the break .But the 55 minute yellow card for Diego Costa, for leading with his arm in an aerial challenge on Wes Brown, may cause Chelsea real problems – being his fifth of the season, he now sits out the visit of Tottenham on Wednesday.
A long shot by Nemanja Matic, on 67 minutes, came with such ferocity it knocked the 6ft 7ins tall Pantilimon back a full yard on receiving it – but not quite far enough to put keeper and ball over the line.
A Wickham effort moments later forced a fine save from Thibaut Courtois – who got his fingers around the ball at the second time of asking. And a pair of late efforts from Adam Johnson could have seen Sunderland victorious – but that wasn't to be either.
Chelsea go seven points clear, with second and third placed Southampton and Manchester City to face each other tomorrow.
Blues: Courtois, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Matic, Fabregas, Willian (Schurrle 84), Oscar (Remy 75), Hazard, Costa (Drogba 75) Unused: Cech, Zouma, Filipe Luis, Mikel