Sunderland may never have a better chance of ending a dismal 13-match winless sequence in the Premier League than when Fulham visit the Stadium of Light on Sunday.
A run of six draws and seven defeats since their excellent Stadium of Light success against Arsenal more than three months ago has left the Black Cats only three points above the drop-zone.
It is in sharp contrast to their hopes in November when they were outside bets to break into a Europa League spot.
Despite the poor run, Sunderland remain difficult to beat on Wearside where only Chelsea and Aston Villa have returned home with all three points this season.
Meanwhile, Fulham have only won one league game away from Craven Cottage all season and endured a long trip to Ukraine in midweek for a Europa League last-32 second leg clash against Shakhtar Donetsk.
The only three-point haul on their travels came on the opening weekend of the campaign when they beat Portsmouth 1-0 at Fratton Park since when they have drawn five matches and lost seven.
Roy Hodgson's team have recovered from a dismal January to beat Pompey, Burnley and Birmingham City this month though as well as grinding out a goalless draw at Bolton Wanderers to move back up to ninth in the table.
Sunderland boss Steve Bruce is able to welcome Lee Cattermole back into his squad after the former Middlesbrough and Wigan Athletic midfielder completed his suspension but David Meyler will serve the second of his three-match ban.
Andy Reid (hamstring) and Jordan Henderson (ankle) once again look set to miss out while the Cottagers will be without injured quartet Clint Dempsey, John Paintsil, Andy Johnson (all knee) and Kagisho Dikgacoi (ankle).
Last season Kenwyne Jones' goal proved to be enough for Sunderland to claim all three points from a 1-0 victory against the side from the capital.