Sunderland host Manchester United at 1.30 pm today in an unlikely must-win. Jose Mourinho needs the points too as he seeks to lift his Red Devils into a top four finish.
David Moyes faces an internal torturous wrangle today. He has to try and beat Jose Mourinho, a feat he's never managed in his managerial career. The time for aiming not to lose has gone and his Sunderland side will have to take a risk.
The game plan of competing with the opposition and hoping Jermain Defoe snatches one was proven to fail weeks ago as the England striker has embarked on a barren run stretching back two months. Sunderland aren't creating chances for him and when they do fashion an opening on goal, the opportunity has been falling to others who couldn't hit the barn door with their backside - Billy Jones, Fabio Borini and Adnan Januzaj to name but three.
The Belgian winger is ineligible to face United today which presents Moyes with an opportunity to freshen up his attack. Januzaj hasn't been bad in recent weeks but he continues to create little or engineer any end product.
With that in mind, the stage is set for Victor Anichebe. The powerful forward represents Sunderland's best chance of presenting Manchester United with a challenge and when he's fit, he's a match for any defender in the Premier League. It's just that he isn't technically fit. Moyes suggested that Big Vic is ready to play a part but that he won't last 90 minutes.
Moyes dawdled over changes on Tuesday night at Leicester and it cost Sunderland the game as Craig Shakespeare freshened up his side with devastating effect. The Black Cats boss failed to take the initiative when it was presenting, as his side started to labour after having the measure of the Foxes for an hour.
For that reason Anichebe must start this afternoon and make an impact from the beginning of the game. Sunderland can revert to hanging on later in proceedings and take him off should there be anything to cling to.
Lee Cattermole played 70-odd minutes on Tuesday night and whilst it's a big ask to expect the midfielder to play his second game in less than a week after a six month lay-off, Sunderland desperately need his presence on the park.
John O'Shea will miss the encounter with his former club as he remains with his family following the death of his father. It's almost impossible to predict whether Sunderland will opt for a five at the back or a four, or even a three. With David Moyes at the helm, they all tend to be variants of the same thing anyway. Kone and Denayer will likely continue as the pair of centre-backs with Djilobodji on the bench.
Some sort of 4-3-3 variant likely then. Fabio Borini has done nothing to deserve a place in the side but is more than likely to continue in support of Defoe with Victor Anichebe providing the outlet on the opposite side. Gibson or Rodwell in the middle seems to be the other decision.
Pickford, Jones, Kone, Denayer, Oviedo, Ndong, Cattermole, Rodwell, Borini, Defoe, Anichebe