Sunderland travel to Norwich City this weekend getting really quite desperate for three points, but with the Canaries currently surging up the table and in fine form it looks like it could be quite a task. Join us as we preview the action from Carrow Road
Sunderland Team News
Lee Cattermole looks set to be out for some time after damaging knee ligaments. Jack Colback, who dropped to the bench last time out, looks most likely to replace the Sunderland captain in the side, but Martin O'Neill also has David Vaughan at his disposal.
John O'Shea missed the midweek game against Queen's Park Rangers and remains a doubt - should he miss out then Matt Kilgallon could again deputise. Titus Bramble's capability against strong a centre forward such as Grant Holt could also be an option.
Norwich City Team News
Goalkeeper John Ruddy and former Sunderland man Michael Turner remain on the injured list, which should ensure that the City side is kept relatively unchanged from the midweek draw at Southampton.
Should manager Chris Hughton opt to freshen things up he can call on Jonathan Howson or Andrew Surman in midfield, or Steve Morison in attack.
Sunderland: Mignolet; Bardsley, Cuellar, Kilgallon, Rose; Larsson, Gardner, Colback, Johnson; Sessegnon; Fletcher
Norwich City: Bunn; Whittaker, R Bennett, Bassong, Garrido; Snodgrass, B Johnson, Tettey, Pilkington; Hoolahan; Holt
Key Matchup: Stephane Sessegnon Vs Alexander Tettey
The creative force meets the immovable object? Well, not quite, but it is an area of the field that will determine how this game goes.
Sessegnon is starting to find his feet, having scored two in his last three games. Getting him on the ball - in favourable attacking positions - remains a key part of Sunderland's game plan, and an inability to do so explains their struggles.
The Norwegian holding player is Norwich's top interceptor and one of their top tacklers; instructing him to sit just behind the rest of the midfield could force Sessegnon wide, where he had some joy against West Bromwich Albion. Should Sessegnon be able to evade Tettey's attention, Sunderland should be able to generate momentum.
Recent Form: WDWDD
Win: Norwich City 1-0 Stoke City (Johnson 44)
Draw: Reading 0-0 Norwich City
Win: Norwich City 1-0 Manchester United (Pilkington 60)
Draw: Everton 1-1 Norwich City (Naismith 12; Bassong 90)
Draw: Southampton 1-1 Norwich City (Lambert 32; Snodgrass 45)
Last Time Around: Norwich City 2-1 Sunderland, 26/09/12
One of the more frustrating games of last season, a 4-0 home win over Stoke City was backed up by a team performance in front of the Sky cameras.
After Craig Gardner and Nicklas Bendtner were both unable to make the most of their chances, Leon Barnett turned home an Elliott Bennett cross to put the Canaries in front.
Just after the interval, Welsh front man Steve Morison headed a second City goal before Kieran Richardson's goal inspired a late rally from the visitors - but it was to no avail.
The Ref: Phil Dowd
Infamous on Wearside for his showdown with Lee Cattermole, the Staffordshire-based official has refereed Sunderland seven times since that occasion, with no wins - the closest being the 3-3 draw at Manchester City in which the Black Cats let a two-goal lead slip.
His only game involving Sunderland this season was the Capital One Cup exit at the hands of Middlesbrough.
What The Managers Said
We're in a position in the league where it's so tight. We're two or three points away from mid-table, and two or three points away from relegation.
It's going to be like that for a number of weeks.
There's a lot of sides similar in quality, and you just have to eke out that bit of luck to get a result.
We're not making the individual errors that we had been. We're looking a fairly secure unit.
We look more compact, we are not scoring the amount of goals we would like or making life easy for ourselves, but you can't have everything.
Roker Report Predicts
Norwich's recent form suggests just how difficult a game it will be on Sunday, but Sunderland haven't fared too badly on the road despite much of the early part of the season featuring away games.
The injury to Cattermole is key, as the composition of Sunderland's midfield has been somewhat of a problem so far this season. With that in mind we're going to plump for a scoring draw, with Fletcher getting the first goal.