Paolo Di Canio takes charge of the Black Cats for the first time as Sunderland take on top four chasers Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Spanish Euro and World Cup winning striker Fernando Torres pledged on Saturday to try his heart out to regain the form that saw him become one of the most feared marksmen in world football.
The 29-year-old – capped over 100 times by his country – has failed to replicate the form for Chelsea that earned him a £50million move in January 2011 from Liverpool.
However, a brace against Russian side Rubin Kazan on Thursday in their Europa League quarter-final, first leg clash took him to 18 goals for the season and gave him hope that he is on the right track.
“I want to do the things I used to do all my life,” he told the Daily Mail.
“I did them at Atletico Madrid, I did them at Liverpool and I am not doing them at Chelsea. I am working on it. If I knew the reason, I would fix it in one minute. But the only way to fix these things is to work at it.
“I am training every day and I will never, ever give up.”
Torres, who scored 65 goals for Liverpool in 91 league starts, said that he was enjoying being at Chelsea and hoped he could propel them to the FA Cup and Europa League trophies, and hence salvage something from a generally disappointing season.
“I am happy here,” said Torres, who has had to play a secondary role first to Didier Drogba and now Demba Ba since he moved from Newcastle in the January transfer window.
“I am enjoying London and happy at this club.
“I know my statistics at Chelsea have not been the same as in other years in my career. But I am fighting to get back to those statistics and I will never, ever give up.
“I will try my heart out for this club. There are too many things I have to give back to these people and I want to show my thanks to them.
“Hopefully this season we can give them two more trophies and next season we can fight again for the biggest ones, the Champions League and the Premier League.
“I am getting better but I’m still not at the level I want.”
Torres will have to wait to see whether his double was enough to earn him a start in Sunday’s Premier League home match against relegation-threatened Sunderland.
Venue Stamford Bridge, Sunday 3pm
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Last season Chelsea 1 Sunderland 0
Referee Neil Swarbrick
This season’s matches 13 Y44, R0, 3.38 cards per game
Subs from Blackman, Hilário, Turnbull, Ferreira, Ake, Lampard, Benayoun, Moses, Marin, Torres, Malouda
Injured Cahill (knee, 17 Apr), Cole (hamstring, 17 Apr), Romeu (knee, Aug)
Form guide LWWLWL
Disciplinary record Y41 R2
Leading scorer Lampard 12
Subs from Westwood, Kilgallon, Mangane, Vaughan, Graham, Johnson, McClean, Madrone, Noble
Doubtful Vaughan (groin)
Injured Cattermole (knee, Aug) Fletcher (ankle, Aug), Brown (knee, unknown), Cuéllar (hamstring, unknown)
Form guide LDLDLL
Disciplinary record Y49 R0
Leading scorer Fletcher 11
Chelsea have beaten Sunderland in 15 of their last 16 Premier League encounters and are currently enjoying a four-match winning run against the Black Cats.
Sunderland’s last win over Chelsea was a 3-0 triumph at Stamford Bridge in November 2010.
The Blues have scored 34 goals in 11 Premier League home games against the Black Cats – an average of over three goals per game.
Rafa Benitez’s men have won three (all at home) and lost three (all away) of their last six Premier League games.
The Blues have not lost a Premier League game at Stamford Bridge in the month of April since a 3-0 defeat by Manchester United in 2002 (W17, D8).
Chelsea have scored 12 headed goals this season, a figure only bettered by leaders Manchester United (13).
Chelsea have lost the last two league matches that John Terry has started (v Newcastle and Southampton).
Paolo Di Canio will become the fifth manager (including caretakers) to start his time in a Premier League job with a trip to Stamford Bridge. None of the previous four have managed to win (D1, L3).
During his playing career, Di Canio scored 66 times in 190 Premier League appearances. He scored four goals against Chelsea; the only opposition he scored more against were Leicester (six).
The Black Cats have collected only three points (D3, L5) in their last eight Premier League matches.
Martin O’Neill won seven of his first 10 Premier League matches in charge of Sunderland, but only nine of the last 45.