As the game wore on, it became evident that the Blues would fail to find the back of the net, despite their dominance on the ball and the tally of shots they registered. The game followed the path seen all too often last season, as teams sat deep and prevented goalscoring chances, and it was ultimately the inability to defeat defensive teams that cost the West Londoners the Premier League title.
However, the signings of Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas, and a turn to a more intense possession-based style of play seem to have overcome that problem, with victories registered over Leicester and Burnley - two teams considered defensive - suggesting that Chelsea could now deal with any situation.
But Sunderland have proven that the Blues will still struggle when faced with a composed defence, and, although other teams will now know how to set-up when facing them, the goalless draw has happened at the perfect time for Chelsea.
It was a game at the Stadium of Light last season that saw Mourinho vow to return to the basics of defending, having conceded three goals to the Black Cats in a 4-3 win, before the Blues fell 2-1 to the same team just over a week later in the Capital One Cup. The results convinced the Portuguese coach to revert away from the expansive style he had been attempting to incorporate, and it played a large factor in the Blues coming so close to winning the Premier League.
Despite the result only being a draw this season, the failure to score could have a similar effect upon Mourinho as last season’s loss did, as he figures out a way to overcome the defensive opposition they face in the remainder of the season. Rather than vowing to return to a defensive style, he could look for a variation in their attacking play that will allow them to overcome whatever may be placed in front of them, especially in the latter stages of the campaign when teams struggling with potential relegation lay out more defensively than they were at the opening of the season, in an attempt to secure points from anywhere.
The Blues host Spurs this week, and they can enter the game with the expectation that their London rivals will be looking for the win, allowing them to play their own game which has worked so well this season. But games with Newcastle, Hull, Stoke and Derby in the coming weeks could prove tougher tests, and Sunderland’s defensive performance could have just given Mourinho the tools he needs to improve his squad in the search for an unbeaten Premier League season.