Sunderland and Stoke meet for the 145th time in league football this weekend, with the hosts looking to climb out the bottom three for the first time this season.
Sam Allardyce’s side picked up a valuable three points at Crystal Palace on Monday night thanks to a late Jermain Defoe goal, and already there are signs that the new boss is bringing his traditional solidity and efficiency to the Black Cats – a 6-2 defeat at Everton aside.
The win at Selhurst Park means the Wearside outfit are just a point away from safety, but in order to escape the bottom-three they need to improve on a home record which has seen them win just once at the Stadium of Light so far this season.
Another relegation dogfight looks to be on the cards in the north-east this season, but Sunderland could do with picking up some points now to avoid having to resort to their traditional ‘Great Escape’ in the closing weeks of the season.
Stoke continued their recent improvement with an impressive 1-0 win at Southampton last weekend; Bojan’s flicked finish securing all three points for the Potters.
Mark Hughes’ side will be happy to be on the road again this weekend after picking up 12 points on their travels, compared to just seven at the Britannia Stadium.
The Potters have kept it tight away from home, scoring six goals and conceding five in their seven games; Saturday’s clash is unlikely to be a goal fest.
Jermain Defoe is expected to be available despite limping off with an ankle injury at Palace.
Billy Jones is suspended but Fabio Borini could return from an ankle injury.
For Stoke, Xherdan Shaqiri is back after a hamstring strain but defender Philipp Wollscheid may not play due to a sore pelvis.
Geoff Cameron or Marc Wilson are likely to deputise should the German defender miss out.
League Position: Sunderland – 18th (9 pts); Stoke – 11th (19 pts)
Last Meeting: Stoke 1-1 Sunderland – April 25th, 2015
Key Players: Sunderland – Duncan Watmore; Stoke – Bojan
Form: Sunderland – DLWLLW; Stoke – WWLDWW
Shoot Says: Sunderland 0-0 Stoke