Sunderland are in no doubt of the magnitude of their next Premier League game when they take on Aston Villa at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
The Black Cats are seven points adrift from safety and face the only side in the division with a worse record than them this season, as Villa are without a league win since the opening day of the season.
After last night's 1-0 defeat to Liverpool, which made it five defeats in December to round off 2015 for the Black Cats, manager Sam Allardyce has described Saturday's clash as a 'nerve-tester'.
He's quoted in the Sunderland Echo, saying: “We must keep our nerve on Saturday, even though they will have had a couple of days more than we have to get ready for this game.
“We have to be ready physically and mentally to make sure we’re the team who comes away with three points.”
Certainly failure to pick up a victory against Villa would leave a very bleak picture for the Black Cats who showed signs of recovery under Allardyce prior to this slump in form.
Some of their relegation rivals face very difficult fixtures with Swansea travelling to Manchester United while Newcastle face a trip to league leaders Arsenal.
Duncan Watmore is confident the side can come away with the result they need if they apply themselves.
He told the Sunderland Echo: “We know Villa is a big game, but we have to treat it as professionally as you can and play your own game.
“We know the situation, but we need to treat it as any other game and try and win and that’s what we will try and do."
It looks as if it is going to be a nervy Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon, but it would be a big blow to their chances of staying in the division if Sunderland don't pick up all three points, and it would be another nail in Villa's coffin if they fail to pick up only their second win of the campaign.
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