Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

I'd Rather Play Blues Than Stoke - Cats Star

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

I'd Rather Play Blues Than Stoke - Cats Star

Article excerpt

Byline: Luke Edwards

THEY are widely believed to be the pretenders to the Premier League crown, but Sunderland captain Dean Whitehead has argued he would rather face an away game at Chelsea than Stoke.

Having sampled the euphoria of a derby win over Newcastle last weekend, the Black Cats were brought crashing back down to earth at the Britannia Stadium on Wednesday as they buckled under the pressure of the Potters' aerial bombardment.

So lifeless was Sunderland's display in the 1-0 defeat that manager Roy Keane insisted it was comfortably their worst performance of the season so far - and his captain, Whitehead, can not disagree.

However, having found it difficult to get the ball on the ground to play their usual passing game at Stoke, Whitehead is looking forward to playing against a rather more attractive side in Chelsea this weekend.

"It can be hard to play your own game when you come up against a team like Stoke," said Whitehead, who was beaten in the air by Ricardo Fuller for Stoke's winner.

"We didn't pass the ball anything like as well as we can do, and I think that's because, at various stages of the evening, we got ourselves wrapped up in their game.

"When the ball is up in the air all the time, it's hard not to fall into the trap of playing too many long balls yourself.

"I think that's partly what happened. The Chelsea game will be different, but it's another match where we know that questions will be asked of us defensively.

"In a strange kind of way, it might be easier for us to play against Chelsea than it was against Stoke. It certainly might be easier for us to concentrate on playing our own game.

"We all know what Stoke are about, and that can make it hard to focus on what you're doing. Chelsea are different. They'll come at us and look to play football, and that might allow us to get the ball down ourselves and play on the break. …

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