Former Wales boss Chris Coleman has won one and lost one since taking over on Wearside and has a lot of work to do to turn things around, while in the opposing dugout Jaap Stam has suffered a bout of second season syndrome with Reading sitting 16th after reaching last season's play-off final.
Coleman slowly improving spirits on Wearside
One thing Coleman has managed to turn around in his short time as Sunderland boss is the spirit of the fans, with supporters holding cautious optimism regarding their chances of staying up this season.
A narrow defeat at Villa Park was followed up by a crucial win at fellow relegation rivals Burton Albion last weekend, with Coleman's celebration after the final whistle at Pirelli Park an indicator of how important three points was against Brian Clough's men.
The Black Cats are still yet to win at home in 2017 and have just two home games left to avoid going an entire calendar year without a home victory, with Reading and Coleman's former employers Fulham the teams standing in their way.
Lewis Grabban has been Sunderland's main goal threat all season with 10 league goals and will continue to be the main source of goals should he stay at the club past January, with Bournemouth rumoured to be interested in recalling the striker during the winter transfer window.
Coleman admitted this week that his side still have "mountains to climb" for the remainder of the season, but added he is "certainly not put off" by the challenge.
Reading hoping to salvage underwhelming season
The Royals have not enjoyed the season they hoped for after reaching the play-off final last time around.
They currently sit 16th in the Championship, although their form has improved in recent weeks with just one defeat from their last six - a 2-0 home loss to league leaders Wolves.
Stam's men swept Barnsley aside on Tuesday night by a 3-0 scoreline with goals from Dave Edwards, Joey van den Berg and Jón Daði Böðvarsson securing three points for the Berkshire outfit.
There has not been one player who has been the main source of goals for Reading this season, with top scorers Böðvarsson and Modou Barrow only on three league goals each although the team have netted 23 in the league overall.
Stam stressed that Sunderland "still have a lot of quality in the squad" despite their league position and added that his players are "aware of what their team and players can do."
Stam named an unchanged side for the first time this season on Tuesday with injuries a real problem for Reading in recent months, with Garath McCleary returning to training this week although he is unlikely to play a part on Saturday while midfielder John Swift is also out.
Sunderland are without winger Duncan Watmore who suffered another cruciate knee injury that has ruled him out for the season, as well as long-term absentees Lamine Koné and Jonny Williams.
Defender Marc Wilson could return to the squad after returning from injury although Didier Ndong, Jack Rodwell and Billy Jones are set to miss out.
Sunderland (4-5-1): Ruiter; Oviedo, O'Shea, Wilson, Matthews; McGeady, Cattermole, McNair, Honeyman, McManaman; Grabban.
Reading (4-1-4-1): Mannone; Bacuna, McShane, Moore, Gunter; Van den Berg; Aluko, Edwards, Kelly, Barrow; Böðvarsson