Six wins from their last seven in all competitions suggests that Man City are starting to click under Pep Guardiola, and they have the chance to put a fourth straight league victory on the board when they visit the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland supporters have had to get used to battling relegation in the last couple of years, but there is a feeling that David Moyes might not be able to prevent the club from dropping out of the top flight this season.
The Black Cats have finished 17th, 14th, 16th and 17th in the last four Premier League seasons, which is an indication of their struggles in recent years. They have not been out of the top flight of English football since 2007, but they are currently rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table on 19 points.
The situation is difficult, but not quite terminal. Indeed, Sunderland are actually only three points behind 17th-placed Middlesbrough and just five points behind champions Leicester City in 15th spot. Unlike in recent seasons, no team has fallen away at the bottom, which has set up a fascinating battle to remain in the league.
Sunderland's first league win of 2017 came away at Crystal Palace on February 2, with that 4-0 victory following a 0-0 draw at home to Tottenham Hotspur. At that point, the signs were good for Moyes's side, but it has been a case of one step forward and two back after losing their last two in the league without scoring a goal.
Indeed, they lost 4-0 at home to Southampton on February 11, before suffering a 2-0 defeat at Everton last weekend. It will be tough for the Black Cats to get anything against Man City in this match, but they have a massive home game against Burnley on March 18, which is surely a must-win fixture.
Worryingly for Sunderland, they have already lost 17 times in the Premier League this season, which is the same number of defeats that they had in the entirety of the 2015-16 campaign. That total could be passed this weekend with still 11 games of the season left to play.
Recent form: LLDWLL
Guardiola's time at Man City has not been without its bumps and bruises, but there are signs that things are just starting to fall into place. Indeed, the club are still fighting on three fronts this season, although success in the Premier League is going to be very difficult due to Chelsea's strength throughout the campaign.
Manchester United's involvement in the League Cup final last weekend meant that the Manchester derby scheduled to take place at the Etihad had to be postponed and as a result, Man City dropped to third position in the table after Tottenham beat Stoke City to move one spot behind Chelsea.
Man City might have a game in hand over the league leaders, but they are 11 points behind Antonio Conte's side and need a lot of things to fall into place in order to snatch the crown away from the Blues. Guardiola's side are well-placed to finish in the top four this season, although they are actually only four points above sixth-placed Man United on the same number of matches.
Sixteen wins, four draws and five defeats have brought Man City 52 Premier League points this season, while they have the joint-best away record alongside Chelsea in the division this term – collecting 27 points from 13 fixtures.
A 4-0 defeat at Everton on January 15 was a damaging result for Man City, but they are unbeaten in the league since that result and have won six of their last seven in all competitions. That said, they have actually not played a Premier League match since winning 2-0 at Bournemouth on February 13.
Since then, the Citizens have played twice in the FA Cup – needing a replay to overcome Huddersfield Town – and also hosted AS Monaco in the first leg of their last-16 clash in the Champions League. Monaco arrived in England full of confidence, but the Ligue 1 leaders lost 5-3 at the Etihad Stadium in what was an enthralling fixture.
It is a busy March for Man City as they prepare to face Stoke City and Liverpool in the league, while they will travel to Middlesbrough in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup on March 11 and also face a trip to Monaco in the Champions League.
Recent form: WLDWWW
Recent form (all competitions): WWWDWW
Joleon Lescott is in line to feature against his former club, although the 34-year-old is again expected to be on the bench for the league's basement side.
Wilfredo Caballero is expected to return to the Man City team after sitting out the FA Cup replay with Huddersfield Town during the week, while David Silva will also come back into the XI after not featuring against the Championship outfit.
Fernandinho could again start at left-back despite the return to fitness of Gael Clichy, which would leave Yaya Toure as the holding midfielder behind an attacking four of Leroy Sane, Kevin De Bruyne, Silva and Raheem Sterling.
Sergio Aguero, who has scored in each of his last three games at the Stadium of Light, will again lead the line for the former English champions as Gabriel Jesus continues his recovery from a broken foot.
Sunderland possible starting lineup:
Pickford; Jones, Kone, O'Shea, Oviedo; Gibson, Larsson, Ndong; Januzaj, Defoe, Borini
Man City possible starting lineup:
Caballero; Zabaleta, Stones, Otamendi, Fernandinho; Toure; Sane, Silva, De Bruyne, Sterling; Aguero
Head To Head
Sunderland have lost each of their last five Premier League games against Man City since picking up a point in a 2-2 draw at the Etihad during the 2013-14 campaign.
Incredibly, Sunderland recorded four successive 1-0 home wins over Man City in the Premier League between 2010 and 2013, but the Citizens have won on their last two league visits to the Stadium of Light – including a 1-0 success last season.
That said, Man City found Sunderland a tough nut to crack in the reverse match on the opening weekend of this season – narrowly beating the Black Cats 2-1 courtesy of an own goal from McNair in the 87th minute.
We say: Sunderland 0-3 Man City
It is very difficult to predict anything other than an away win this weekend. Sunderland should be full of energy and fight in front of their own supporters, but Man City have too much quality in the final third and we are backing Guardiola's side to make it four straight wins in the Premier League.