Beleaguered Sunderland will need to upset the odds to beat in-form Everton and revive their bid to avoid Premier League relegation.
Gus Poyet's side are rooted to the foot of the table, seven points from safety, after picking up just one point from their last seven top-flight matches.
The club's next three fixtures would appear to offer little room for optimism, with games at title contenders Manchester City and Chelsea following the visit of Everton.
By the time fellow strugglers Cardiff City arrive at the Stadium of Light on April 27, the situation could be beyond repair - something Poyet acknowledged following Monday night's 5-1 humbling at Tottenham.
"I think we need a miracle. We need something unique, a shock, because if not I cannot see it coming," said the Uruguayan.
The vibrant displays that brought a 3-0 derby victory at Newcastle United on February 1 - Sunderland's last league win - and gave Manchester City an almighty scare in last month's League Cup final are now a distant memory for Poyet.
By contrast, Roberto Martinez's Everton are very much on the crest of a wave following last Sunday's stirring 3-0 win over Arsenal at Goodison Park, a result that leaves them in control of their destiny when it comes to securing qualification for the UEFA Champions League.
On the same weekend Sunderland fell foul of City at Wembley, Everton beat West Ham 1-0 to launch a winning run that presently stands at six Premier League games.
Belgium international Romelu Lukaku came off the bench to net a late winner against West Ham following an injury lay-off, and the influence of the on-loan Chelsea striker on Everton's subsequent charge cannot be underestimated.
Deployed unconventionally on the right-hand side of Everton's attack last time out, he unsettled Arsenal's backline throughout and stormed in from the flank to score his 14th goal in 27 appearances for the Merseyside club.
A point behind fourth-placed Arsenal with a game in hand, Martinez's men are now emerging from their status as fancied outsiders to be seen as a team expected to succeed.
However, Everton will not be taking Sunderland lightly this weekend, having been beaten 1-0 in December's reverse fixture.
"They've had significant performances at home this season and they can replicate that level at any time," said Martinez of Sunderland on Thursday.
"We'll have to be at our best against a team that's ready to fight for every ball and you have to have the same level of focus and concentration.
"We remember the defeat at home against them and we need to be as good as we can be."
Martinez provided an update on midfielder Leon Osman, who was forced off early against Arsenal with a facial injury.
"Leon Osman is the only doubt we have. The cut is healing well but the eye is not fully open so we need to make sure that doesn't affect his vision," added the Spaniard.
|Coach: G. Poyet|
|MLS Review: Timbers triumph in Montreal, Dallas thwart Vancouver|
|Jovetic ready to lead City line - Pellegrini|
|Lewandowski impresses Ribery, Alaba|
|Colombian Primera A Review: Three clubs remain perfect, Atletico Nacional get off the mark|
|Rodgers: ´We can score goals´ without Suarez|
|Chilean Primera Division Review: Canales brace powers Universidad Chile|
|Atletico Madrid need penalties to edge past Earthquakes|
|Liga MX Review: Monterrey, America stay perfect|
|Paraguayan Primera Division Review: Capiata set pace|
|Brazilian Serie A Review: Cruzeiro win again, Kaka scores|
|Sterling goal sees Liverpool past Olympiacos|
|Peruvian Primera Division Review: Los Caimanes notch maiden win, Inti Gas claim top spot|
|CAF Champions League Review: Zamalek held, Vita Club leave it late|
|Jovetic at the double as Manchester City thrash Milan|
|Monk thrilled by Sigurdsson contribution|
|Lovren signs for Liverpool|
|Mourinho pleased with Olimpija test|
|Vertonghen eager to remain at Spurs|
|Sigurdsson marks Swansea return with a brace|
|Lewandowski, Rode help Bayern retain Telekom Cup|
|Immobile scores and suffers injury in Dortmund win|
|Costa scores on Chelsea debut|
|CAF Confederation Cup Review: Leopards de Dolisie 1 Real Bamako 2|
|Thai Premier League Review: Buriram pull clear, Police edge away from danger|
|Falcao nears Monaco return|
|CSL Review: Harbin Yiteng produce another upset, Evergrande stretch lead|
|Britton and Emnes to miss season-opener|
|Taylor-Fletcher strike sinks Everton|
|J.League Review: Chasing pack close on Urawa Reds, Tokushima Vortis secure rare win|
|Ancelotti expects fresh Bale to be even better|
|Simeone keen on Griezmann|
|Mazzarri refuses to set Inter targets|
|Lazio director targeted by fans|
|Dyche rules out Deeney move|
|Rummenigge: Bayern will never sack Guardiola|
|BREAKING NEWS: Arsenal to bring in Ospina|
|Pochettino quiet on Schneiderlin link|
|Vidic settling into Inter life|
|Van Gaal hints at Zaha United future|
|Di Maria will report for training - Ancelotti|
|Wilshere vows to answer critics|
|Rodgers expecting titles|
|Deila demands Celtic cutting edge|
|Rodgers: We won´t rush Lallana|
|Wenger: We have to be better against top-level teams|
|FIGC presidential candidate uses racist slur|
|MLS Review: Columbus claim second straight win, Toronto falter|
|Villa battle past Dynamo in Houston|
|United more efficient, says Garcia|
|Pedestrian Tottenham edge past Chicago Fire|
|Van Gaal bemoans display|
|CS Sfaxien 1 ES Tunis 0: Troussier era opens with a win|
|Icardi stars from the spot as Inter overcome Real Madrid|
|Arsenal upstaged by Red Bulls|
|Pre-Season Friendly Review: Rooney stars for United, Bayern reach Telekom final|
|In-form Rooney inspires Manchester United win|
|CAF Confederation Cup Review: Cotonsport on verge of progress|
|Ribery helps Bayern to penalty victory on return|
|Balzaretti suffers another injury blow|
|Puel confirms Ospina departure|
|Beckham backs Rodriguez to be Real hit|
|Bojan fails to inspire Stoke|
|Long on target as Hull held by Barnsley|
|Cardiff issue Medel warning|
|Ferreyra sorry for late Shakhtar return|
|Payet rules out Swansea move|
|Gilchrist nets winner as Burnley edge Accrington|
|Cazorla optimistic for new season|
|Celtic suffer St Pauli defeat|
|QPR lose on Ferdinand debut|
|Mashaba handed Bafana Bafana role|
|Van Aanholt eager to prove himself|
|Areola completes Bastia loan switch|
|Ospina imminent, but Szczesny gets Wenger´s backing|
|Reus happy with progress|
|Alleged spot-fixers released|
|Giuly: Mathieu can be the next Abidal|
|Allardyce hoping to keep hold of Morrison|
|Monk hails quality of Swansea additions|
|Van Gaal orders United players to speak English|
|Allardyce: We must improve|
|Campbell thrilled by Palace switch|
|Bojan drawn by Stoke style|
|Palace were wasteful, says Pulis|
|Van Gaal suits me - Cleverley|
|Newcastle stay perfect in NZ|
|Van Gaal prepared to wait for Strootman|
|West Brom overcome Sacramento|
|Colorado Rapids 3 Chivas USA 0: Hosts rise to third in the West|
|Gameiro brace adds to West Ham woes|
|Villas-Boas: Rodriguez best suited to no.10 role|
|Cazorla: I´m happy at Arsenal|
|Reina respects Liverpool contract|
|Lampard could move to Melbourne on loan|
|Galliani: Balotelli ´99.9 per cent´ staying|
|Own goal helps Palace win in Philadelphia|
|Mourinho: Shaw deal would have ´killed´ Chelsea|
|Al Ahli Benghazi 0 ES Setif 2: Visitors on verge of semi-final spot|
|Julio Cesar returns to QPR|
|Rooney wants to lead United|