Biggest game of the season so far. Win and we're 6th, just 2 points off 4th and with 2 teams above us you'd anticipate falling away as the season progresses. Lose and we're 10th or worse, behind every one of our major competitors (RS, Manu U, Spurs), all of whom have been derided as having terrible starts to the season and will likely improve (to some degree).
More importantly, we simply need to start showing, and believing, that we can regularly win these types of games, home or away. If we're serious about top 4 or better, playing Sunderland needs to mean 3 points in the bank. That's what cost us last year. A win is 10 points out of 12, and that's form we can carry on into a fairly nice looking middle of the season run after the international break, up to the end of Jan (West Ham, Spurs, Hull, Man City, QPR, Southampton, Stoke, Newcastle, Hull, Man City, West Brom, Palace). Some tough ones in there no doubt, but avoiding Chelsea/Arse/MU/RS is sweet. OK we have City twice, but we usually do them anyway (when it matters).
Absolute must win for me.