Sunderland v Villa stats: Visitors hoping for another Wearside win
It's been a tough Christmas period for Villa fans to endure with injuries and suspensions mounting against Paul Lambert's already slim squad so the news that two key players could be back for the Sunderland clash couldn't come soon enough.
The absence of Ron Vlaar and Christian Benteke this month has taken its toll but with both potentially in line for a return to the matchday squad on Wednesday, Villa will hope to kick-start their season in 2014.
Captain Vlaar's presence is likely to be particularly key with Ciaran Clark now unavailable due to a suspension, with Villa always benefitting from the Dutchman's experience at the back.
The 28-year old's last full game incidentally came against the Black Cats as he helped Villa keep a clean sheet back in November.
Indeed, when you include the 45 minutes he played at Southampton, Lambert's side conceded in just one of the last five matches that Vlaar played when the skipper was on the field.
Villa will be hoping for another shut out at the Stadium of Light - having conceded just once in their last four matches against the Black Cats, which ironically came in the 6-1 win at Villa Park in April.
Only Everton have conceded fewer goals away from home than the Villans this season (11), while the visitors are one of only two sides to score fewer goals as hosts than Sunderland (10), whose record at home is the worst in the league (7 points).
Gus Poyet's side are, however, unbeaten in four matches, having improved defensively under the Uruguayan.
It's likely that this game will be another tight match then, with just six of Villa's 19 league matches this season separated by more than a single goal.
Only four of the 25 Premier League matches between these sides have seen the two separated by more than that at the final whistle, with Villa the victors on each occasion.
With Lambert's side one of only eight teams without a negative goal difference away from home so far, the away fans will hope that the odd goal falls in their favour.
With Villa losing just once on their last eight visits to the Stadium of Light, winning five of those, the travelling support will certainly be hoping to kick off the New Year in style, with the side still just three points adrift of the top half.
Find yet more statistics on Villa and the rest of the Premier League, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings at WhoScored.com. Follow @WhoScored and their editor-in-chief @martinlaurence7 on Twitter.