Sunday 5th March – 16:00 – Stadium of Light
Newcastle travel to Sunderland tomorrow looking for a first win in six games against their north-east rivals. The Toon have lost their last four games against Sunderland, scoring just one goal, but both have installed new managers since they last played in December, with Alan Pardew and Gus Poyet departing after the turn of the year. Dick Advocaat takes charge of Sunderland for only the second time following a 1-0 defeat to West Ham on his debut before the international break. His side are in severe relegation danger having not won since the end of January and sit just a point above the drop zone. Meanwhile John Carver’s Newcastle are stuck in mid-table and out of form, losing their last three. Their last game ended in Arsenal being 2-1 victors at St. James’ Park. With the hosts in deep trouble (Sunderland have only Leicester still to face of those sides scrapping with them and their final two matches are away to Arsenal and Chelsea), this could well be the the final Tyne-Wear derby we see for a few seasons…
The Key Battle: Steven Fletcher vs Daryl Janmaat
Sunderland fans will be hoping that Steven Fletcher’s hat-trick whilst on international duty (even if it was against Gibraltar) means that he will be on top form for the Tyne-Wear derby.
The striker only has seven goals for the Black Cats in the past two seasons, but he looks to be the man who could spearhead their survival battle, just as Connor Wickham did around this time last season.
But if he can’t score against Newcastle, there might not be a huge amount of hope, as only QPR and Burnley had conceded more goals than the 48 by The Toon prior to the latest round of matches.
Daryl Janmaat, a summer signing from Feyenoord, has been a regular in that defence, featuring in all 30 league games this season.
Admittedly, he has spent the majority of that time at right-back, but more recently his role has been in the centre.
Like Fletcher, he has failed to live up to expectations, especially after an impressive World Cup with Holland. This is the game for him to become a Geordie hero though…
- Midfielder Lee Cattermole will start Sunday’s game after serving a two-match suspension.
- Defender Billy Jones could also return after seven weeks out with a hamstring problem, but Will Buckley and Emanuele Giaccherini are both out.
- Wes Brown has been ruled out for several weeks after injuring his knee in the defeat at West Ham, meaning Santiago Vergini could start his first game since the start of March.
- Midfielder Mehdi Abeid will bolster Newcastle’s depleted ranks after recovering from a thigh problem.
- Massadio Haidara will not play again this season after undergoing surgery to remove a cyst from his knee.
- Steven Taylor, Paul Dummett, Cheick Tiote and Siem de Jong remain injured, and Fabricio Coloccini and Papiss Cisse continue their respective suspensions.
Sunderland wins = 46 / Newcastle wins = 51 / Draws = 44
Last Meeting: Newcastle 0-1 Sunderland (21st December 2014)
Adam Johnson scored in the 90th minute to give Sunderland their fourth successive win over Newcastle in the Tyne-Wear derby. The winger placed his shot past Jak Alnwick following an excellent counter-attack by the Black Cats. They also went close through Steven Fletcher, whose shot hit the post, while Connor Wickham wasted chances. Newcastle striker Ayoze Perez was twice denied by Costel Pantilimon, who also saved from Moussa Sissoko.
Stat of the Match
Sunderland have not won consecutive top-flight home matches against Newcastle since registering three successive victories between 1957 and 1967.
Where can I watch it?
Sky Sports 1 will show the game live from 3:30pm, with kick-off an hour later. Match of the Day 2 will then have the highlights for you on Sunday evening at 10:30pm.
My Prediction: Sunderland 1-1 Newcastle United
The Black Cats are in deep relegation trouble, but always seem fired up for this fixture, understandably. But John Carver is a Geordie born and bred and will also set his team out to end the Toon’s winless run in the league and in this fixture. This means that we’re in for a hotly contested match which should end in a draw, with Steven Fletcher scoring for the hosts and Yoann Gouffran hitting the back of the net for the visitors.