Sunderland fans will soon be raising a glass to toast the end of a year they’ll be glad to see the back of.
A grand total of seven wins in the Premier League and just five at the Stadium of Light are slim pickings indeed following on from 2014 which was little better – life is proving just as tough for Sunderland’s third manager of the year as it was for the previous two.
But it’s no real surprise Sam Allardyce has endured such a miserable month: away trips to Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester City always looked like serving up a daunting December.
But the manner of those defeats and in particular the dissarray of the opening exchanges of the last three games – when six goals were conceded in the first 25 minutes – provides little comfort for Sunderland fans searching for hope in the rubble.
A visit from Liverpool, who are slowly picking up momentum under Jurgen Klopp, is perhaps not the fixture Allarydce would have chosen to end the year on a high.
But strange things can happen at this stage of the season.
Who can forget the way Sunderland saw off Manchester City here against the odds almost four years to the day when Ji scored at the death inspiring that unforgettable commentary from my Sky Sports colleague Martin Tyler?
The game is set up for an upset of a similar nature and it might just be a lucky omen for Sunderland that once again the Sky Sports team descend on the Stadium of Light in great numbers.
You’ll notice the huge trucks parked up in the car park; packed with state of the art technology and manned by brilliant technicians and production staff, whose sole aim is to bring the best possible television coverage to Sky customers.
I will be hosting our show from the studio inside the stadium but I’m a relative newcomer having joined Sky Sports ‘only’ 18 years ago.
There is so much experience in our operation, led by the aforementioned Martin Tyler, our lead commentator known simply as ‘the voice’ by his colleagues.
Martin has called thousands of games and what he doesn’t know about the Premier League really isn’t worth knowing, while he continues to serve up those amazing sound bites.
Martin will be taking his cue tonight from our match director Tony Mills who has predicted the multiple outcomes of any game long before any of us have considered them.
It is through his eyes our viewers watch the game unfold; he gives you the pictures you want to see without you even realising it, commanding the many cameras you will see around the ground tonight.
There there is the best production team in the business; producer Scott Melvin who leads the operation, puts the show together and drives it from the first second to the last and presentation director Duncan East who will be the main voice in my ear, guiding and prompting me and our pundits Jamie Redknapp and Jamie Carragher.
While in the tunnel, our pitchside reporter Geoff Shreeves will be skilfully probing and managing the emotions of the main protagonists of this drama we love so much.
Not forgetting the countless technicians, sound operators, engineers, electricians and assistant producers who all contribute hugely bringing any game to air.
And our co-commentator who needs no introduction to Sunderland fans as a former player, manager and chairman of his beloved club. Niall Quinn offers an insight entirely unique in the modern game.
Thousands and thousands of matches of experience between the team, from those who’ve played it to those who’ve watched and talked about it professionally for years and years.
Experience tells us that however big a favourite one side looks it’s very rarely as straightforward as that in the Premier League; however much a team looks doomed it’s foolhardy to write them off; uncertainty is the only certainty, especially in this crazy season.
Happy New Year and if you can ... keep the faith.