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Black Cats full-back thinks champions can mount credible title defence

Phil Bardsley says Chelsea's 4-2 victory over Sunderland on Tuesday night shows why they're still serious title contenders.

The Blues had suffered a slump since their 2-0 loss to Liverpool at Anfield in November and are now 10 points behind league leaders Manchester United.

“We had a good start but they’re a top team and when you make little mistakes, wrong little decisions, and you get punished,” Bardsley said after the match. “That’s why they won the league last year and that’s why they’re competing again this year. They’re a top team and unfortunately for us tonight we’ve given them a few soft goals and it's cost us.”

Bardsley opened the scoring in the fourth minute for Sunderland and admitted that it was bittersweet to get his first goal in front of the home crowd while losing the game.

“I can’t really remember too much about it. I just cut inside and just felt it was early doors and it was worth a crack and fortunately for me and the team it went it. It was a nice feeling but it was disappointing to lose. But to score a goal at the Stadium of Light is a nice feeling," he continued.

“In the last three years I’ve had my fair share of shots that have gone here, there and everywhere but in the last few weeks – it must be them Weetabix I’ve had – to hit the back of the net and hopefully, for me, there’s more to come.”

After initially going a goal down, Chelsea went ahead before Sunderland managed to level the score through a Kieran Richardson free-kick. But in the second half Chelsea stepped up a gear and went on to win comfortably.

“Second half we couldn’t really get near them sometimes but that’s the way it is against top teams. They’re always going to step their game up when they’re drawing or they’re trailing and we found that tonight,” explained Bardsley. “We’ve shown a great attitude all over the pitch tonight and if we take that into future games we’ve got a chance of remaining where we are.

“For the neutrals I bet it was a really good game to watch with both teams going for the throat and unfortunately for us we’ve come out defeated but we’ve got a great bunch of lads who will respond in the right way on Saturday and hopefully we can get the result we want.

“Against a lot of the top teams this year we’ve held our own but it wasn’t to be tonight. We’ll move on and Stoke on Saturday is a big game and if we show the same attitude that we have been lately I’m sure we’ll have half a chance.”

Bardsley has had a fantastic season so far, having been out in the cold at the start of the campaign on the back of considering a move away from the club in the summer, he now finds himself in a position where he is one of the most consistent performers in the side in an unfamiliar role on the left side of defence.

The full-back acknowledged that he would never have imagined being in this situation six months ago, but is adamant he loves every minute of it.

“Things happen in football. If you look at the transfer window last night it just goes to show everything about football; you never know what’s going to happen and that’s why everyone loves it,” he said.

“I’m enjoying my football, enjoying being at this club with a great bunch of lads, a top manager, coaching staff, everybody around the place enjoys being part of it and if we show that attitude and that togetherness we’ve got a hell of a chance of going forward.

“I’ve said for the past two or three months that if you enjoy your football and you enjoy life in general everything falls into place and fortunately for me everything’s going well at the minute."

“That don’t mean to say I can my foot off the gas,” he added. “You’ve still got to keep working hard in training and show the manager that you’re still hungry. I’ll continue to do that and with the lads we’ve got around the place I’m sure we can carry on.”

Looking forward to Saturday’s game with Stoke, Bardsley said Sunderland will be going to the Britannia Stadium looking for a positive result.

“[Kenwyne Jones] was here for a period of time and we know what a threat he is but if we can show the same attitude that we have been, with the group of lads we’ve got, we can go there and get a result,” he concluded.

Bardsley is currently rated by the Castrol Rankings as the 971st best player currently plying his trade in one of the top five leagues in Europe.

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