Sunderland will take on fellow relegation candidates Villa at the Stadium of Light in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon.
It does not promise to be a very exciting game and could be a scrappy one, but it is important for both the teams.
Merson has backed rock-bottom Villans to pick up all three points at the Stadium of Light courtesy of a 2-1 win.
“Sunderland struggled on Wednesday, they've got no centre-halves, and I'd like to think Villa are going to turn up, play two up front and have a right go,” the former England international has written on Skysports.com.
“They've got to go, play ugly, bomb it forward, get it in the box and have a go. They've got a week off after this and don't have to play a full-strength team at Wycombe in the FA Cup, so for me this is the be all and end all.”
Villa are at the foot of the Premier League table at the moment with just eight points from 19 matches.
Remi Garde’s side are as many as 11 points behind 17th-placed Swansea City and have to pick up wins in order to survive in the Premier League.
Sunderland are second from bottom in the standings with only 12 points from 19 games. Sam Allardyce’s side lost all of their league matches in December and are in serious danger of going down to the Championship at the end of the season.