Sunderland and Aston Villa lock horns at the Stadium of Light in the Premier League on Saturday but both sides know they will still be adrift of safety regardless of the match’s outcome.
The Black Cats are second-bottom and have lost their last five games in the league; most recently a 1-0 defeat at home to Liverpool on Wednesday.
That run of form has left Sam Allardyce’s side seven points from safety and facing a serious uphill task to avoid relegation from the top-flight.
As well as a leaky defence, the Wearside outfit have desperately struggled for goals recently; they have scored just three times in December, conceding 12.
Villa have fared even worse; Remi Garde is still looking for his first win since taking over as manager, with their winless run in the league now stretching across 18 outings.
With just eight points to their name this term, the Midlands side are 11 from safety with the joint-worst goal difference in the league (-19, same as their hosts).
They have won just one game in the Premier League this campaign – vs Bournemouth on the opening day – and relegation for the first time since 1987 looks inevitable.
John O’Shea and Sebatian Coates are 50-50 to make this clash, while Jack Rodwell, Younes Kaboul and Sebastian Laarson are all ruled out.
Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is in contention to start between the posts for the strugglers, having been recalled from his loan at Championship outfit Preston North End earlier this week.
Ashley Westwood and Jordan Ayew are both suspended for the visitors after picking up their fifth yellow cards of the season, while Jores Okore faces a late fitness test.
Carlos Sanchez will miss the game with a hamstring strain, while Gabriel Agbonlahor is suffering from a lower back injury.
League Position: Sunderland – 19th (12 pts); Aston Villa – 20th (8 pts)
Last Meeting: Aston Villa 2-2 Sunderland – August 29, 2015
Key Players: Sunderland – Jermain Defoe; Aston Villa – Scott Sinclair
League Form: Sunderland – WLLLLL; Aston Villa – LDLDDL
Shoot Says: Sunderland 1-0 Aston Villa