Martin O'Neill's side are currently four points above the drop zone, though having not won since January, they are in serious trouble. This game is one in a difficult run-in, with the Black Cats travelling to Stamford Bridge to play Chelsea next weekend.
Meanwhile at the other end of the table, Manchester United are still 15 points clear, having not been beaten in the league since November. On a run of six straight league wins, they really ought to extend their streak, even if they were hardly convincing in their 1-0 win over Reading before the international break.
Sunderland's task is made even more difficult by their injury list. Steven Fletcher is the team's only true striker to have scored in the league this season, though after he picked up an ankle ligament injury on international duty with Scotland, he's unavailable for the rest of the season, sidelined with captain Lee Cattermole.
Elsewhere, former United player Wes Brown is out with a knee injury, while his defensive counterpart Carlos Cuellar's ankle injury renders him doubtful. David Vaughan and Stéphane Sessègnon face fitness tests to determine their availability.
Sir Alex Ferguson may well opt to rest a few of his stars ahead of United's FA Cup replay against Chelsea on Monday night, with Anders Lindegaard possibly set to start in goal ahead of David De Gea, while Robin Van Persie could also be benched as Javier Hernández comes into the attack. Paul Scholes, Phil Jones and Nani could all return from their recent injuries.
United will be looking to banish the bad memories of the last time they played at the Stadium of Light on the final day of last season -- when, despite a 1-0 victory, a late comeback at the Etihad Stadium saw Manchester City snatch the title.
Sunderland injuries and suspensions
Out: Steven Fletcher (ankle), Lee Cattermole (knee), Wes Brown (knee) In doubt: Carlos Cuellar (ankle), David Vaughan (groin), Stéphane Sessègnon (groin)
Manchester United injuries and suspensions
In doubt: Paul Scholes (knee), Phil Jones (ankle), Nani (hamstring)
Match Date\Time: Saturday, 12:45pm local, 7:45am ET
Venue: Stadium of Light, Sunderland, England
TV: ESPN3, ESPN Deportes, ESPN2 (U.S.), Sky Sports 2/HD (U.K.)