Sunderland go into the season's opener against Arsenal hoping to improve on a record which has seen the Black Cats pick up just two points from the last five encounters at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal have lost just one of their six build-up games - to reigning Barclays Premier League champions Manchester City in Beijing.
Sunderland's pre-season schedule has featured trips to South Korea and Sweden, rounding off with a 1-0 defeat at Leicester last weekend.
New signing Carlos Cuellar may be in line for his first competitive start for the Black Cats with fellow defenders Phil Bardsley and Wes Brown ruled out.
Meanwhile Martin O'Neill is hopeful that Stephane Sessegnon will be fit to play some part after the Benin international trained earlier in the week.
And Louis Saha should go straight into the squad after joining Sunderland on Thursday.
The last time the Black Cats tasted victory against Arsenal in North London was 28 years ago, in November 1983.
Arsenal have won seven and drawn three of their 10 home Premier League matches against Sunderland and the Black Cats have only scored once in their last four visit to the Emirates.
The game will be the 131st league meeting between the sides - the 143rd in all competitions.
The Gunners have the edge over Sunderland in their previous league meetings, winning 49 games to the Black Cats' 44 victories with 37 draws.
Sunderland and Arsenal faced each other three times last season, with Arsenal claiming 2-1 victories in both league games.
However, O'Neill's men gained a modicum of revenge with a 2-0 victory in the FA Cup with Budweiser at the Stadium of Light.
ONES TO WATCH - ARSENAL
Belgian centre-back Vermaelen joined Arsenal from Dutch side Ajax in June 2009, quickly establishing himself as a fans' favourite with a series of commanding displays. The 26-year-old was named in the PFA Team of the Year during his debut season but missed the majority of Arsenal's 2011-12 campaign through injury. He recovered to lead his country out against England at Wembley in June.
Arteta began his career at Barcelona, but it was his performances for Rangers and then Real Sociedad that persuaded Everton to bring the Spaniard to the Premier League in 2005. After making 209 appearances in his six years with the Toffees, Arsene Wenger identified Arteta as the man to fill the void left by Cesc Fabregas's departure to Barcelona in August 2011. The midfielder impressed during his first season at the Emirates, adding a disciplined creative verve to the Gunner's attacking options.
The experienced Polish-born German international joined Arsenal earlier this summer after scoring 18 goals in the Bundesliga last season. Comfortable as an out-and-out striker or playing in a wide role, the prolific forward started his career at Cologne, netting 51 times in 85 appearances before joining Bayern Munich in 2006. Following a difficult three-year spell at the Allianz Arena, Podolski returned to Cologne in 2009. He has been part of several successful German sides, winning his 100th cap this summer at Euro 2012.