Steve Bruce is convinced Sunderland can finish the season on a high as long as they can ride out the final few weeks of an injury nightmare.
The Black Cats head for Arsenal desperate to bring an end to a run of four successive Barclays Premier League defeats in the most trying of circumstances. Arsene Wenger's men will be in no mood to surrender the ground they regained in the title race in midweek when leaders Manchester United lost at Chelsea as they attempt to further repair the damage of last weekend's shock Carling Cup final defeat by Birmingham.
In addition, Bruce and his players head for the Emirates Stadium with key men once again left behind in the treatment room. The Black Cats have been without the likes of Michael Turner, Lee Cattermole, David Meyler, Fraizer Campbell and Danny Welbeck for months, and with Nedum Onuoha and Bolo Zenden having joined them on the casualty list and keeper Craig Gordon heading for Sweden to consult a specialist over his niggling knee problem on Monday, the manager's options are severely limited.
Welbeck could make the squad after returning to full training after his own knee injury and Turner, Cattermole and Campbell are expected to be available within weeks, and that would come as a welcome relief in the face of a costly run of defeats.
Bruce said: "The thing you look for is that resilience to get you out of it. We have got to try to get over the next two or three games and get over March if we can. After that, we have got eight or nine games where you look, on paper anyway, and think we have still got an outstanding chance.
"The eight or nine coming back will freshen us up. They will be champing at the bit and we will need that. It will give the whole place a lift when we get them back training again. I don't think I have been involved in anything like now when we have got nine - and probably six of them have been out for three months or more, and some of them have been out for six months, which is cruel, it really, really is."