With plenty of key decisions for Tony Mowbray and one crucial suspension, he has plenty to ponder in terms of team selection for this all-important fixture.
With that in mind, here’s the Sunderland XI that we’re predicting for today’s clash at the Stadium of Light…
In goal, Anthony Patterson hopes to continue his fine form, having kept two clean sheets in his last three games.
In front of him, the fit-again Dennis Cirkin could earn a recall to feature alongside Danny Batth and Luke O’Nien in a central defensive three. Jack Clarke will therefore be handed a more advanced role from his usual left-back berth, as will Lynden Gooch on the right.
One of the major issues that Mowbray will face is the suspension of Corry Evans. It may be wishful thinking, but we could duly see a first Sunderland start for loanee Edouard Michut.
The young Frenchman has made one cameo appearance from the bench but the 19-year-old – who 90min journalist Michael Graham suggested was a “superb” signing – might finally be handed a starting birth and given a chance to showcase his talents to the Stadium of Light.
Mowbray will be relying upon his front three to win him this match after the team scoring just once in their last three games.
Elliot Embleton will likely continue spearheading the attack, supplemented by Alex Pritchard. Much of the width will be provided by Amad Diallo, who could be recalled in favour of Patrick Roberts.
Neither of the right wingers has performed particularly well in recent weeks, with WhoScored seasonal ratings of 6.17 and 6.79 respectively, but the Manchester United loanee will be keen to ignite his career on Wearside in the hope that he can take some momentum back to Old Trafford.