Gustavo Poyet is hoping for a bit of normality from a Sunderland away game for once, but Villa Park might not be the best place to go in search of it.
The Black Cats went into their last game at Aston Villa on the back of consecutive wins under new manager Paolo Di Canio.
They came down to earth with a crash, beaten 6-1 and having Stephane Sessegnon sent off.
“It was a big surprise because I remember Sunderland at the time,” said Poyet of the game.
“I don’t want one of those (games). We will take a 0-0. I want a normal game, 11 versus 11.
“We play well and no one gets sent off.”
Sunderland are yet to score or take a point away from home under Poyet.
All three games have been unusual, two Black Cats players scoring own goals at Swansea City, two sent off at Hull City and one at Stoke City.
The lack of goals is the most alarming factor.
Poyet reflected: “It’s a balance. We have been talking about different things and we have to do better away from home.
“We have tried to find enough solidity and yet with it an ability to attack and we haven’t found that yet.
“That’s us, that’s not referees, or anything else, that’s us.
“We need to find the balance which we did not do at Swansea or Stoke.
“If we get one chance we need to take it because that will give the whole game a different look.
“We had it the other day (at Stoke) and then one bad decision in terms of marking and they scored. That is football. You have to take your chances and be spot on when they come.”
Last week’s 2-0 defeat the Britannia Stadium, combined with a win for Crystal Palace, saw Sunderland drop to the bottom.
West Bromwich Albion in 2005 are the only team to avoid relegation having been bottom of the Premier League going into Christmas.
Sunderland have five more games to move up the table before the fFestive season.
Poyet said: “Am I a big believer in statistics as a manager? No, I am not.
“Sometimes things happen and sometimes you don’t want to look at statistics because you don’t want to see what is true.
“At the same time there are always exceptions and it would be nice to be the exception. We have to just try, try, try.
“Last year it looked difficult for QPR, they made a big investment in January and tried. It looked as though they were coming out of trouble, but they didn’t. Who can say that was right or wrong?”