Sunderland manager Gus Poyet has added to the pressure on his squad because of his comments last week about their upcoming fixtures.
Poyet told the Sunderland Echo that his team had to beat either Manchester United or Hull City in their next two fixtures if they wanted to beat the drop.
It was clearly a motivational tactic, to help ensure that the players were not undervaluing the importance of their next two matches, but it could have backfired after the North East outfit lost to United at the weekend.
Sunderland fell to a 2-0 defeat at Old Trafford on Saturday and it means that the Black Cats go into a game against Hull which their manager has already labelled as make or break.
"We need to win at least one of these two," he said last week. "You can’t afford to concentrate only on home games – you have to win away as well.”
It is a statement which heaps pressure on his side, and it also means that Poyet may need to reconsider his tactical approach for the match against Hull.
Sunderland have generally played on the backfoot away from the Stadium of Light this term, but if Poyet was serious about his side needing to claim three points then he must provide his side more licence to attack.
The Black Cats have not got forward anywhere near as effectively as they would have hoped this campaign, but Hull are a side who can be vulnerable and Sunderland need to take advantage of this by being more positive in their approach.
If they can pick up the three points at the KC Stadium it will be a huge step towards safety, but a defeat will leave serious questions being asked - especially after Poyet admitted that it was a must-win fixture just a few days ago.