A win on Jan. 1 could, if results go the team's way, see Gus Poyet's side climb out of the bottom three.Sunderland could move out of the Premier League relegation zone by beating Aston Villa at the Stadium of Light on New Year's Day.
The league's basement club has not been out of the bottom three since the second weekend of the season, but victory on Wednesday combined with other results going the team's way could give is a perfect start to 2014.
Pressure is beginning to build on Villa boss Paul Lambert after the club's winless streak stretched to five matches with a 1-1 home draw against Swansea City on Saturday.
The Midlands club has only taken one point from a possible 15 and finds itself four points clear of the relegation zone.
By contrast, Gus Poyet's side extended its unbeaten run to four league games by coming from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Cardiff City.
Poyet is hopeful Sunderland can build on that fightback as the club seeks a first win in six meetings with Villa.
"We need to use [momentum]," he said. "We are at home. We have got plenty of games at home against teams in the bottom 10 and it is up to us. When [Poyet and his management team] took over the distance was a big gap. Now we are one win away from getting out of the relegation three, which is a great feeling.
"Things are going in the right direction. Let's hope we can maintain that consistency into the new year and [pick up] another three points. We need to be ready and do the basics against Villa; keep a clean sheet, keep the ball and take our chances."
The home side is without goalkeeper Keiren Westwood (shoulder) and Carlos Cuellar (hip), while Wes Brown serves the final game of a suspension. There are also doubts over Adam Johnson and on-loan striker Fabio Borini after both were struck down with illness.
Ciaran Clark is banned for Villa, which is also set to be without Chris Herd (hamstring), Joe Bennett (back), Charles N'Zogbia (Achilles) and Jores Okore (knee).
Christian Benteke (knee) and Ron Vlaar (calf) both missed the draw with Swansea and face late fitness tests.