Watch Sunderland v Southampton - live now on BT Sport 1

A lot has changed since these two sides met in the reverse fixture at the beginning of the season.

England had just retained the Ashes, Paolo Di Canio was in charge of struggling Sunderland and Southampton were sniffing around the Champions League places.

In the past few weeks, the two teams have seen a reversal in fortunes, with the Saints slipping down to ninth and losing executive chairman Nicola Cortese, who resigned this week amid a long-standing impasse with owner Katharina Liebherr over the club's future direction.

Suddenly, Southampton fans fear losing their highly-rated manager and the club's sought-after stars. Mauricio Pochettino has pledged his immediate future to the club and vowed to hang on to his key assets, with Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea all reported to be monitoring defender Luke Shaw's situation, while West Ham have been linked with striker Rickie Lambert.

On the flip side, Gus Poyet’s Sunderland, written off by many experts, finally hauled themselves off the bottom off the table with last weekend’s 4-1 drubbing of Fulham.

Adam Johnson was the hero of the hour, coming in from the cold to give Roy Hodgson a nudge with the first hat-trick of his career and, remarkably, only the second to have been scored in the Premier League this season.        

A win for Sunderland in front of the BT Sport cameras on Saturday could see Sunderland elevated to 15th – three places above the drop-zone, with the league so tight that they are only six points of 10th.

While this is not a must-win game for the Black Cats, January represents a good chance to put some points on the board. Stoke visit Wearside at the end of the month before Sunderland embark on a daunting set of fixtures in February, with trips to Newcastle, Manchester City and Arsenal.

Southampton, flying high for much of the season, steadied the ship with a 1-0 defeat of West Brom last week after a difficult December saw them pick up just five points from a possible 21.

As it stands they are in no-man’s land – seven points off 7th place and seven points clear of 10th.

Next month’s fixture list has been kinder to the Saints, with games against Fulham, Stoke, Hull and West Ham, presenting Mauricio Pochettino’s side with an ideal chance to kick on again in the second half of the season.


OPTA MATCH FACTS

  • Sunderland are unbeaten in their last six matches in all competitions against Southampton (W3 D3)
  • Southampton are unbeaten in their last five league trips to the Stadium of Light (W1 D4)
  • The Saints have scored exactly one goal in each of their last five trips to the Stadium of Light in all competitions.
  • Sunderland have won fewer points at home in the Premier League this season than any other side (7)
  • Southampton have won just one of their last seven Premier League away games (W1 D3 L3)
  • Sunderland have lost only one of their last six Premier League games (W2 D3 L1)
  • Since December 14th 2013, seven of Southampton’s eight Premier League goals have come from Englishmen
  • Sunderland haven’t won successive Premier League games since last April