The Black Cats are unbeaten in their last six Premier League away games but face a title-chasing team in need of overcoming a brief blip in form and the manager expects a battle.
Sunderland manager Gus Poyet knows that there will be no margin for error when his struggling side travel to Manchester City on Wednesday.
The Wearsiders suffered their first Premier League defeat in five games when they were beaten 2-0 by Hull City on Saturday and they are hovering just one place above the relegation zone.
The Black Cats now face the task of locking horns with a City side licking their wounds after their 100 per cent top-flight home record was ended by Chelsea before they were held at Norwich City on Saturday, with the fixture a dress rehearsal of sorts for their Capital One Cup final clash on March 2.
A cautious Poyet told the club’s official website: “We need to be realistic. They have got plenty of quality players and that’s why they’re in the position they are.
“We must be spot-on and do everything right, make sure we’re organised to make it difficult for them.
“Saying that, I think it’s a game the boys are looking forward to, having the opportunity to play against the team we will face in the cup final. It’s a nice game to play.”
Sunderland are unbeaten in their last six away games in the Premier League and Poyet says that he will expect a brave performance at the Etihad Stadium.
“[Away form] has been very important – we’ve been very good away from home of late, probably one of the best,” he continued.
“We are going to have to defend at periods in the game because of the quality of the opposition. At the same time we need to be dominant on the ball.
“Without any doubt, it’s going to be physical. We will need to be in good shape but, mentally, we must be strong enough to go and try, as much as we can, to control the game. We can’t just let them come forward again and again.”