Still buoyant from their success over bitter rivals Newcastle United, Gustavo Poyet’s Sunderland host lowly Hull City, to whom they lost all three meetings last season.
After two wonderful chances had been missed, it looked set to be yet another draw for the Black Cats, only for Adam Johnson to finish off a superbly worked counter-attack and earn them a fourth straight Tyne-Wear derby victory.
Not only was it the first three-point haul for the club since the beginning of November, but it helped them move four points above the bottom three ahead of this clash. That progress can continue if they can add to a meagre goals tally of 15.
Hull appeared comfortable in mid-table two months ago when they were holding their own to draw away to both Arsenal and Liverpool, but have since fallen into a worrying downward spiral which has left them second from bottom and three points adrift.
They produced another poor display against Swansea City last time out, and for the first time during his two and-a-half year tenure, Steve Bruce is experiencing some difficulty. He has the quality at his disposal, and this match begins a pivotal run of fixtures. against sides in the bottom half.
Sunderland are without Connor Wickham after he picked up his fifth booking of the season on Sunday. Meanwhile, Billy Jones is likely to replace the injured Anthony Reveillere.
Michael Dawson, Robert Snodgrass and Mohamed Diame are out injured for Hull, with former Tottenham duo Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore both suspended.
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