The six-pointer is back and it's bigger than ever
It doesn't get much more stomach-churning for Sunderland fans than this weekend as the ultimate relegation six-pointer kicks off at Selhurst Park tomorrow.
Defeat at Crystal Palace will not relegate us, but it will make this season's already mountainous climb look more Penshaw than Tunstall Hill.
Nice and blustery up by Penshaw Monument #safc pic.twitter.com/HO7amQRXTo— Rob Scanlon (@RobScanlon_TV) February 2, 2017
As if that wasn't tasty enough, throw Sam Allardyce into the equation and we have more reason than most to get one over on Big Sam. Patrick van Aanholt will there too, leading the Palace supporting cast, having only just upped and legged it from Wearside.
David Moyes was in front of the cameras this morning to preview the game and provide his reflections on the transfer window which closed earlier in the week.
Here's our take on three things he said, but there was one that no one seemed to ask him.
1.His thoughts on Sam Allardyce and Crystal Palace
During his time at Everton, David Moyes enjoyed a decent record against tomorrow's opponent Sam Allardyce. Indeed the current Sunderland boss won more games against Big Sam than any other manager barring Harry Redknapp and Steve Bruce.
However, Moyes had far greater resources at Goodison Park than he is currently scrimping about with at the Stadium of Light; and Allardyce has breezed into Selhurst Park and immediately splashed the cash - an estimated £26m spent in January compared with Sunderland's meagre £7.5m.
Moyes suggested today that Sunderland's players have a "lot to thank Sam Allardyce for" as the man who masterminded the means by which most of the present lot stayed in the Premier League last season.
The majority of the current Sunderland squad even enhanced their reputations during the Allardyce-inspired survival run last season, though plenty have displayed inconsistencies since to put a dent back in. Big Sam's departure for his wasted England opportunity hardly helped of course.
And there were few words from Moyes today on the departure of Patrick van Aanholt earlier this week, just a reminder that the Dutchman now belongs to Sunderland history:
We look forward to playing against Patrick on Saturday. You'll always be friends but on the pitch you want to get a result.
2. Will the new lads play?
Left-back Bryan Oviedo, central midfielder Darron Gibson and centre-back Joleon Lescott joined the club during the transfer window.
Lescott was on the bench for Tuesday night's game with Liverpool. Oviedo has had to wait for an updated work permit but will be available for the trip to Crystal Palace, whilst Darron Gibson hasn't started a league game for Everton this season so may need easing into the side.
Moyes however said Oviedo and Gibson will be "in and around the squad" and suggested their arrival mid-week had given the mood in the Sunderland camp a lift -
I've enjoyed having the new lads in because I know there character and I've worked with them in the past.
Whether any of the three will feature probably depend on how assessments on their fitness have panned out this week.
Oviedo will the most likely to play with him being brought in as a direct replacement for Patrick van Aanholt and the right-footed Javier Manquillo filled in at left-back on Tuesday night.
3. Is anyone else injured?
Centre-back, Papy Djilobodji remains banned - he has another two games to serve after tomorrow's match.
The Sunderland boss suggested the return of Lamine Kone and Didier Ndong for the Tottenham clash on Tuesday was a bonus; and after the pair missed a few weeks to represent their countries at the African Cup of Nations, their return gives the squad as big a boost as a couple of new signings.
Moyes indicated that Sunderland have no new player fitness issues - a run of injury-free weeks with some key faces returned will be critical to Sunderland's hopes of staying up just as it was last season under Sam Allardyce.
But, did no one ask him why the window petered out?
It wasn't the most exciting transfer window was it? Either generally across English football, or more specifically from a Sunderland focus. Whilst the bottom six in the Premier League spent big - accounting for 50% of the overall spend - there was a predictability about the disappointment on Wearside as no one barring what was absolutely essential arrived at the Stadium of Light.
A left-back, a central midfielder and a defender were the bare minimum and duly arrived, but in truth - so too was a forward and an attacking midfielder both of which failed to turn up.
The Sunderland boss outlined that the two Everton men have been brought in to bolster a thinning squad affected by injury confirming Oviedo will replace Patrick van Aanholt and Darron Gibson is here to "reinforce the midfield".
And, with the sale of Sebastian Coates last night, Sunderland have raised upwards of £15m - perhaps closer to £20m - in the last few weeks and shelled out just over £7m. Was no further money ever going to be spent or did the club run out of time and options to bring in anyone else?
Moyes indicated he is content with the squad he now has, and appeared to suggest he will not be actively looking at any free agents should they be available to bring in something extra to the side.
Sunderland's Premier League status will now either have to live or die by the business, or lack of, that was done in the January window.