The FourFourTwo Preview: Stoke vs Sunderland
New Sunderland manager Gus Poyet has won three of his five matches in charge, with home league triumphs over rivals Newcastle United and Manchester City particularly encouraging.
The challenge for Poyet is now to get his side performing on their travels, with the Stadium of Light outfit - who sit second-bottom on the table - possessing a dreadful record on the road.
Of their 15 matches away from home in all competitions this year, they have won just two, with the last coming in April at St James' Park.
A tumultuous 11 months has seen four different Sunderland managers - although Kevin Ball was only employed in a caretaker role - in charge but midfielder Adam Johnson hopes a corner has finally been turned.
"That's three wins out of three at home and we're in the quarter-finals of the (League) Cup as well," Johnson told the club's official website.
"We've had some tough fixtures at home and now we play two of the teams in and around us away from home.
"Hopefully the lads who are away (on international duty) can come back fit and we can take that into the next couple of games."
Italian Emanuele Giaccherini scored for his country in a 2-2 friendly draw with Nigeria in London on Monday, while Sebastian Larsson saw his Sweden side defeated 4-2 on aggregate by Portugal in their FIFA World Cup play-off one day later.
Sunderland will face another side who are struggling, with Stoke dropping to 17th after a 3-3 draw at Swansea City in their last fixture.
Charlie Adam's last-gasp penalty rescued a point but manager Mark Hughes will have been disappointed with his side's defence as they threw away a 2-0 lead.
Stoke have only lost one of their last five matches, a 3-2 defeat at Manchester United, but have won just twice in the league this season.
They have struggled for goals - only Adam has scored more than one in the league - but will hope the league's worst defensive outfit, Sunderland, continue to struggle at the back.
Stoke's only injury concern is Andy Wilkinson (knee), who will not play, while Sunderland have a clean bill of health ahead of a busy period.