This weekend contains the Wear-Tyne derby, which is one of the most passionate fixtures of the whole season. Both sets of fans will want nothing more than to come out of the match with three points. Neither manager can afford to lose this match. Alan Pardew can’t afford to lose back-to-back derbies, while Gus Poyet needs to get points on the board from somewhere. An early defeat to Newcastle could kill his Sunderland career before it’s really begun. Both sides have yet to set the league alight, a win for either side will really kick start their season.
Since Newcastle returned to the Premier League in the 2010/11 season, the two teams have contested 6 matches. Newcastle have won 2; there have been 3 draws and Sunderland have one win. The two matches that both sets of fans will remember took place at St James’ Park; the Newcastle 5-1 mauling of Sunderland in 2010 and last season’s 3-0 victory for Sunderland. This match gives players and managers alike the chance to gain cult hero status. Kevin Nolan will always be welcomed in Newcastle after scoring a hat trick during the 5-1 win. Another player loved on Tyneside is Ryan Taylor who scored a winning free kick in the 1-0 triumph on Wearside in 2011. Meanwhile Sunderland will always look fondly upon the side that overcame Newcastle six months ago.
Sunderland are coming into the match in wretched form after picking up only one point in their opening 8 matches. Last week they were slaughtered 4-0 in Wales. Their defence looked in disarray after conceding the first goal as the confidence drained from the side. Poyet certainly has a huge task on his hands as the squad he has doesn’t look like it’s capable of surviving in the Premier League. A loss against Sunderland’s biggest rivals could make the fans turn their backs on the under performing squad. Luckily for Poyet, form is thrown out the window for derby games and the derby experience in his side could prove too much for Newcastle.
Newcastle enter the game on the back of two encouraging performances against Cardiff and Liverpool. It looks like Pardew has finally found consistency as they have looked more solid in recent weeks. They played brilliantly in the first half against Liverpool and may have even won if it wasn’t for a moment of stupidity from Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa. Pardew will be pleased with the resilient second half performance with ten men as it showed that they aren’t easy to beat. It was even more exceptional when you consider that they were without their captain Fabricio Coloccini and were only playing with one natural centre half. If Newcastle manage to beat Sunderland on Sunday then it could really kick start their season.
Interesting Derby Stats
There have been four red cards in the last six North East derbies. Three have been picked up by Sunderland players (Bramble, Bardsley and Sessegnon) while Newcastle have only received one (Tiote).
Shola Ameobi has scored seven goals against Sunderland. This is more than he has against any other team. It has earned him the nickname of ‘The Mackem Slayer’.
Out of the 133 league meetings, Newcastle have won 51, Sunderland have won 41 and there have been 41 draws.
Jozy Altidore hasn’t lived up to his hype since returning to the Premier League with Sunderland. He was very impressive for AZ Alkmaar last season and he needs to recapture the form that made the club sign him in the first place. He hasn’t been helped by the lack of creativity in the Sunderland side. He has only had seven shots which is only one per appearance. His shooting accuracy of 57% is good but he needs his midfield to start producing more opportunities as there is no doubt that the American is able to score in this league. He was really unlucky against Arsenal as he scored a perfectly good goal but the referee wrongly brought it back for a foul on the striker. His strength and pace will cause lots of problems for the Newcastle defence this weekend, especially as the team are missing the pace of Yanga-Mbiwa and the experience of Fabricio Coloccini. An occasion like a local derby could motivate the American International on Sunday and we could witness the arrival of Altidore onto the Premier League stage with a match winning performance.
Cheick Tiote is no stranger to North East derbies having played in the 5-1 demolition of Sunderland, the disastrous 3-0 loss at St James’ Park and being sent off in the corresponding fixture last season. The Ivorian has been part of the good, the bad and the ugly sides of this fixture, which is a positive for Newcastle as experience is vital in derby matches. After an indifferent couple of seasons, Tiote finally looks to be returning to the form of his first campaign in England. His tackle success rate of 60.87 from 23 tackles is impressive. He is making a tackle every 17 minutes which shows how important he is at breaking up the play in the middle of the park and with a player like Yohan Cabaye next to him, his role becomes even easier as he doesn’t have to worry about creating chances for the team. He is also successful both on the ground and in the air which is highlighted by his ground 50-50 win rate (55%) and his aerial 50-50 win rate (56%). On Sunday, he will need to ensure that the Sunderland forwards don’t get too much time on the ball and to then give the ball to his own in form attackers. If he plays well on Sunday then it’s likely that Newcastle will win the game.
Wes Brown continues to be missing for Sunderland with a calf injury. After last week’s horror show, Poyet may be tempted to make a few changes ahead of this massive game. Altidore, Fabio Borini, Jack Colback and Cabral are all be pushing for a place in the starting eleven. David Vaughan could also feature after his wonder goal at St James’ Park last season. Sunderland are expected to play Lee Cattermole, Phil Bardsley and Craig Gardner who are all experienced when it comes to the North East derby.
Newcastle will still be without captain Coloccini who could miss the next 8 weeks with a groin injury. Ryan Taylor continues to be a long term absentee. Jonas Gutierrez is doubtful after missing the Liverpool match for personal reasons. Shola Ameobi is likely to feature at some point as he comes alive when he is facing Sunderland. The goal scoring hero against Liverpool, Paul Dummett, is going head to head with Steven Taylor to replace the banned Yanga-Mbiwa in the starting line up. Tiote will continue to captain in the absence of Coloccini.
These matches are impossible to predict but I think Sunderland will come out on top. The derby will really motivate the players and a win will bring the much needed motivantion to improve this season. The only advantage Newcastle have is that every one of their players apart from Loic Remy has experienced a derby against Sunderland. The players that joined Sunderland this summer may not fully understand this match which is why it’s vital that Cattermole, Gardner and Bardsley start. Newcastle will dominate the play but the new centre defence partnership will be fragile and they will struggle to deal with Altidore.