Paulo Di Canio takes charge of his first game as manager of Sunderland Football Club on Sunday afternoon and he couldn’t have a tougher start as he takes the squad to European Champions Chelsea.
Both sides are after the points in this one, albeit for very different reasons as the Blues could be sitting in fifth place by the time it gets underway, whereas the Black Cats are just a point clear of the drop zone and without a win in their last seven top flight matches.
Rafael Benitez’s men will be playing their fourth game in eight days on Sunday and it is sure to be a testing 90 minutes for the home side.
However, there aren’t many teams you would rather take on than Sunderland at the moment and the Spaniard is sure to expect all three points, no matter what his starting eleven is.
After his stunning strike in the 1-0 victory over Manchester United in the FA Cup quarter-final replay on Monday and the fact they he is cup-tied for the Europa League, Demba Ba is likely to start this one. The former Newcastle United man will be desperate to get on the score-sheet on Sunday and it is no surprise to see him leading the way in the first goal-scorer market at 4/1.
Chelsea lost at Southampton in their last league game and they are in a scrap for Champions League football, so only a win will do here.
As for Sunderland, it is going to be interesting to see what style of football they play under Di Canio and you can be sure that the home fans are going to give the former West Ham United player a hostile reception in this one – don’t forget, they’re quite good at booing new managers.
Martin O’Neill’s departure from the club didn’t come as a surprise to many as a lot of teams near the bottom of the table are starting to panic. What the Sunderland board hope is that Di Canio can install a bit of passion and belief in the side, something that has been lacking in recent weeks.
With Steven Fletcher out of action for the rest of the season, Danny Graham simply has to find some form in front of goal after a mediocre start to his career at the Stadium of Light. He is at 5/1 to score in this one.
This should be a game that Chelsea are winning comfortably, but you never quite know what is going to happen when a new manager is in charge.