Posted on: Fri 30 Mar 2012

A year into his Chelsea career, David Luiz is still enjoying every moment, but admits things have not gone to plan on the pitch in recent weeks.

Before last weekend's FA Cup win over Portsmouth, we had not kept a clean sheet in over a month as we struggled for victories, but the Brazilian international believes we can now string a run of results together as we aim to get back into the Barclays Premier League title race.

'We have had some difficult months on the pitch but everybody is focused on training hard and the mentality of the team is so good and so strong, I am sure we will finish the season fighting for the first place in the table,' said the 24-year-old.

'We have a strong belief and the group is united, so if we can make a good run of wins we can challenge again. It is important that we work together while important players like Didier Drogba, Branislav Ivanovic and John Mikel Obi are unavailable to maintain our results.'

Drogba and Salomon Kalou are expected to be absent until mid-February while Ivanovic and Mikel could be back for the trip to Norwich next weekend.

First though we must overcome a rejuvenated Sunderland at Stamford Bridge, a side that has won four of six league games under new manager Martin O' Neill. Victory will close the gap on league leaders Manchester City to eight points before they play Wigan on Monday.

David Luiz will expect to keep his place at the heart of defence while another to make an impact in the last 12 months, Daniel Sturridge, is expected to return. The former Benfica man admits he still feels the buzz when pulling on the blue shirt.

'To come here was a big opportunity in my life and I love this job,' he smiled. 'I want to stay here for a long time. For me the best thing is the people here who have become my friends very quickly. I will always remember the first time I pulled on the Chelsea shirt for a game and I still love doing it.'