On April fifth, Newcastle make the short journey to Wearside to take on their arch rivals, Sunderland. Every match between these two sides is a big game, but the stakes in this one are even higher than normal. Newcastle are comfortably mid table and will absolutely stay up, but Sunderland are in serious danger of getting relegated. With teams like Chelsea, Arsenal and Southampton in their final five matches, Sunderland need to accumulate points and this match is close to a must win for them. Newcastle may not have a whole lot to play for in terms of the league table, but they would love to play a part in relegating their arch rivals and will be looking to get their first win in six against their neighbors. Wins against Newcastle have been key in the black cat’s escape from relegation in the last two seasons and they’ll hope to do something similar this season.
Neither team will have their full array of options available for this derby. Newcastle have been bit by the injury bug and they’ve been bit hard. They’ll be without Jack Alnwick, Steven Taylor, Paul Dummett, Massadio Haidara, Siem De Jong, and Cheick Tiote with long term injuries. Rolando Aarons will be back soon, but the derby is a week too soon for him, while Mehdi Abeid will have a late fitness test. On top of all that, Pappiss Cisse will be out as he is still serving his suspension for spitting at Jonny Evans. Sunderland will be without a few of their key players, although, they are not as hit by injury as Newcastle. This match comes just a week or two too soon for both Will Buckley and Ricky Alvarez. Emanuele Giaccherini and Wes Brown will both be missing out with long term injuries that will keep them on the sidelines until May.
Sunderland are undefeated on their last six matches against Newcastle and have won the last four. Prior to 2013, Sunderland had won only one match against Newcastle in their last 16 against their neighbors. That said, Sunderland are win-less in their last nine matches. The last two Sunderland managers, Gus Poyet and Paolo Di Canio, both played their second match in charge against Newcastle and both won, so Dick Advocaat will hope to continue that trend.
Sunderland: Lee Cattermole
In a derby that will likely be heated, Lee Cattermole could go either way. He could either be a fantastic presence in the middle of the pitch or he could lose his head and become a liability. His tough tackling and endless energy could be useful in a match like this. It’s all about keeping his head.
Newcastle United: Moussa Sissoko
Sissoko is another powerful midfielder, but he is someone that can dominate a game going forwards as well as defensively. The Frenchman is a very powerful runner from midfield and can cause defenses some serious problems. He got his third goal of the season in the last match before the international break against Arsenal. He proved himself incredibly difficult to deal with against a strong Arsenal midfield. He has the qualities to bully any midfield and will hope to dominate this all important derby.
Sunderland will be desperate for three points in this one. Not just is it a derby, but they’re fighting for their Premier League lives right now. Newcastle will be looking to break their awful run of results against their rivals and finally beat the Black Cats for the first time since August 2011. I think this will be a typical open derby game with lots of hot tempers. I feel like this one will have a late winner, it just depends who scores it. Either team could win this, but I feel like Newcastle will edge this and send their neighbors closer to relegation.