Controversial Italian Paolo Di Canio takes charge of his first game as Sunderland boss, leading his men to west London to face Chelsea. The reverse fixture, at the Stadium of Light in early December, saw the European champions win 3-1.

Fernando Torres

Where to Watch

Kick-off is set for 3pm BST. Radio commentary is on BBC Radio 5 Live and highlights are on Match of the Day 2 on BBC One and BBC One HD at 10.25pm BST .


Rafael Benitez comes into this game after a comfortable 3-1 win over Rubin Kazan in a midweek Europa League quarter final. The Blues travel to Russia in the coming midweek game but the focus, for the ex-Liverpool manager, is now on Sunderland, three points and guarding fourth place in the Premier League.

Domestically, Chelsea have won only thrice in the last five games, with defeats to Manchester City and Southampton derailing their bid for a top four finish. Some excuse could be made for a shockingly crowded fixture list, which will see the club play six times inside the next three weeks but Benitez will be aware that he cannot afford slip-ups, particularly like that against the Saints, with Arsenal and Everton hot on his heels.

The good news is Chelsea's home form has been reasonably strong all season, with nine wins from 15 games, 33 goals scored and only 12 conceded; balanced against the Black Cats' eight defeats from 15 games and a goal difference of -10, the odds certainly favour Chelsea.

Paolo Di Canio

As for Sunderland, the sacking of Martin O'Neill and the installation of a firebrand in Di Canio may be just what the players need to galvanise their season. On the other hand, it may have been a horrible move to disrupt a manager-squad partnership at so crucial a point in the season... only time will tell.

Sunderland suffered a narrow 0-1 defeat to champions-elect Manchester United in their last game, a result that extended a winless run to eight games. It may have been that statistic, more than the defeat to the Old Trafford side, which sealed O'Neill's fate.

The side are only a point above Wigan Athletic and the drop zone and they face a difficult run-in to the season's end, with games against Stoke City, Newcastle United and Aston Villa meaning there is still a lot to fight for at the bottom of the league.

Team Form


  • Last Five (all competitions, most recent first): W W L W W
  • Last Result: Chelsea 3 - 1 FK Rubin Kazan


  • Last Five (all competitions, most recent first): L D L D L
  • Last Result: Sunderland 0 - 1 Manchester United

Team News

Cesar Azpilicueta

England internationals Ashley Cole and Gary Cahill are ruled out and ex-Barcelona youngster Oriol Romeu is a long-term absentee. Fernando Torres will likely retain his place as the sole striker, after a brace in the midweek fixture. Expect significant rotation again and the recall of John Obi Mikel, Eden Hazard and Oscar.

Probable Line-Up: Cech; Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Luiz, Bertrand; Ramires, Mikel; Hazard, Oscar, Mata; Torres

Di Canio will not have two hugely influential players in midfielder Lee Cattermole (knee) and striker Steven Fletcher (ankle). January signing Danny Graham, who joined from Swansea City, is likely to lead the Black Cats and Swedish midfielder Sebastian Larsson may start.

Probable Line-Up: Mignolet; Gardner, O'Shea, Bramble, Rose; Johnson, N'Diaye, Larsson, McClean; Sessegnon; Graham