A Chance To Get Out Of The Bottom Three
Sunderland will have the chance to escape the bottom three tomorrow if they can manage three points against Stoke City and Crystal Palace lose away to West Ham.
Stoke have their own problems with Mark Hughes reeling from last weekend's FA Cup defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers, and injuries to key players set against a backdrop of growing supporter unrest.
David Moyes has steadied the Sunderland ship at home, with two wins and a draw from the last four games at the Stadium of Light; but with 2017 now in full-swing, room to manoeuvre continues to shrink as this season's relegation battle enters its second-half.
The Sunderland boss faced the cameras this afternoon to preview tomorrow's fixture and provide an update on transfer dealings as the January window approaches the end of its second week.
He was clear that tomorrow's game, coupled with a trip to West Brom next weekend, represent Sunderland's best chance of getting themselves in a healthier position in the league table:
January can be a month which defines a season and a couple of wins can make it look a lot healthier.
The Transfer Market
Moyes has been clear in recent days that he has no intention of selling any of his best players and he repeated that message today.
This week's transfer gossip has centred around left-back Patrick van Aanholt and former-boss Sam Allardyce putting a bid in for the 26-year-old, but the Sunderland manager is clear that the Dutchman is not for sale and that he has rejected two bids already:
I want to keep all my good players.... Van Aanholt is a really important player for us, he's done really well.
Moyes also praised Vito Mannone for the job he has done since coming back into the side since Jordan Pickford was injured on Boxing Day. The Italian goalkeeper continues to attract attention from clubs in Serie A.
On the subject of Stoke City, David Moyes made a point - as did Mark Hughes in his own press conference this morning - of referencing Sunderland's excellent recent form against the Potters at the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland have not lost at home to Stoke in the Premier League era, but Moyes referenced the progress that the Staffordshire club - who sit in 11th in the Premier League - have made since their promotion in 2008, in contrast to the Black Cats who are now in their fifth successive season desperately fighting relegation:
I watched Stoke play recently and they're a good team. They have a very stable club and they're trying to move up every year.
Injuries have been a long-standing item on David Moyes' press conference agendas this season. Friday afternoons have been a bracing affair for supporters awaiting the latest bad news update from the Sunderland boss.
Moyes' long-term absentee list needs little repeating - Duncan Watmore, Paddy McNair and Lee Cattermole are out for the bulk of the season; and Lyndon Gooch, Jan Kirchhoff have their own lengthy lay-offs.
A big blow is the news that Victor Anichebe will not make the squad for tomorrow. The Nigerian hit man continues to nurse a hamstring problem - an issue which has plagued his career in recent years.
Moyes confirmed Billy Jones may be back from his lay-off this weekend. The 29-year-old right-back missed the New Year visit of Liverpool also with a hamstring problem. Steven Pienaar is still out.
The Sunderland manager also repeated his update that Jordan Pickford may return from injury sooner than was originally predicted, with Moyes suggesting the young England goalkeeper may be back in contention for a first team nod within the month;
He's been telling me he feels good and it'll be maybe three to four weeks.