Today we saw everything the defines a local derby. Guts and glory, blood and thunder, tough tackles and tight play. It was there for us all to see.
And you want to know the best thing? We beat the scum in their own back yard again. Steve Bruce will have to upgrade his CD player to a more technologically advanced medium if he ever wants us to hear the song he has in waiting for us. Tosser.
Newcastle made one change for the game as Demba Ba dropped out allowing Gabriel Obertan to make his full Premier League debut whilst the hosts remained unchanged from the 1-1 draw with Liverpool as Asamoah Gyan recovered from the injury he picked up last week and was proved fit enough to start.
It was Sunderland who edged the early exchanges. Spurred on by a rare full house at the Stadium of Light they set about taking the game to their local rivals. Chances followed but they were unable to convert them through a combination of poor finishing and poor final ball with a bit of bad luck thrown in for good measure. Not that I minded that of course.
Eventually the initial onslaught subsided and Newcastle managed to even up the run of play a little. To his credit referee Howard Webb tried his best to allow the game to run, but with the amount of tackles flying in it was only going to be a matter of time before he produced his wallet from his top pocket. That is about all of the credit I will give Webb however.
You see I dislike Howard Webb. I cringed when I saw it was he who was officiating the game this afternoon. I was proved right halfway through the first-half when Webb and his linesman managed to somehow not see a blatant handball on the Sunderland goal-line by Seb Larsson.
Yohan Cabaye fred in a deep corner which Joey Barton headed towards goal. His effort was cleared over the bar by Larsson’s hand which resulted in a mass protest by the Newcastle players. They had a point aswell. It was obvious without the need of a TV replay although they confirmed what was initially thought. Had it been spotted then Sunderland would surely have been down to ten men and would have had to face a penalty.
Having said that, Newcastle were also lucky to finish the half with a full compliment of players after Yohan Cabaye smashed through Phil Bardsley with raised studs. The former Lille man had been getting stuck in accordingly throughout the match and deserves to have shaken off any notion of him being a tackle dodging Frenchman, but his foot was knee high with studs showing. In the end both teams were fortunate so I guess they cancel each other out although the handball was certainly the clearest offence and the one that left less to interpretation.
In terms of goalmouth action in the first half there wasn’t too much to report. Most of the action was restricted to long range efforts as Sunderland threatened twice from Asamoah Gyan and once through Stephane Sessegnon who was denied by Tim Krul with a fine reflex save. In return Yohan Cabaye had a decent shot for us but it was never really in danger of beating Mignolet in the Sunderland goal whilst Shola Ameobi headed wide from point blank range although he was flagged offside so it wouldn’t have counted anyway.
There were no changes at half-time and the second half got under way in much the same way as the first as the home crowd frothed and fizzed their team on. Their onslaught didn’t last as long as the first half though and Newcastle soon started eeking their way into the game.
Gabriel Obertan, Joey Barton, Jonas Gutierrez were all much improved from their first-half performances, and it was the latter of three who had a hand in the goal when he was brought down by Lee Cattermole. Ryan Taylor despatched the resulting free-kick over the despairing Simon Mignolet and into the top corner of his net to send the away fans into raptures.
From then on you could see the heads drop on the Sunderland players. It was joyous. From then on it was as if we were the home side and they were the away side as we took control of the game and even threatened to extend the lead thanks to the pace of Gabriel Obertan and hold up play of Shola Ameobi as Sunderland grew more and more desperate.
That desperation boiled over into frustration in the last ten minutes as Phil Bardsley rather ferociously tackled Fabricio Coloccini. It was late and was only worthy of a yellow card, but it was his second yellow card of the game and, as we all know, that meant he was off. It didn’t matter anyway as Newcastle saw out the game with relative ease and arguably should have wrapped it up after good work from Ameobi sent Gosling clear on goal only for Mignolet to deny him.
Not to worry. 1-0 will do for me and that’s the way it stayed.
I thought Tim Krul was good today. He made a couple of cracking saves and looked confident when he had to deal with anything. Ryan Taylor did alright again as cover at left-back and will obviously go down in derby day folklore thanks to his goal today. Steven Taylor and Fabricio Coloccini were once again very good together whilst Yohan Cabaye did what he had to do diligently and got stuck in when needed. I wonder if he’ll be the top tackling Premier League midfielder for a second week running?
Gabriel Obertan improved in the second half, as did Joey Barton and Cheik Tiote. Shola was also very good today and caused the Sunderland defence no end of problems with his hold up play and running although he did also manage to be normal Shola on occasion and cause frustration. My wife thought I’d been stabbed when he missed that header!
Also I think Alan Pardew deserves a pat on the back for this one. It’s been a tough week for him and he has been on the end of some criticism from fans, but I think he called the tactics pretty much bang on today. You’re very rarely going to dominate an away match in the Premier League, and our tactics were setup specifically to nullify Sunderland and take advantage on the break. We saw that in the second half.
So bragging right are still ours then I see? No change there then really…
Two games, four points, no goals conceded. Why the drama? Just kidding!
Howay the lads!
Sunderland: Simon Mignolet, Phil Bardsley, Kieran Richardson, Anton Ferdinand, Wes Brown, Lee Cattermole, Seb Larsson, Jack Colback, Ahmed Elmohamady, Stephane Sessegnon, Asamoah Gyan.
Subs: Kieran Westwood, Titus Bramble, Craig Gardner, Connor Wickham, David Vaughan, Louie Laing, Ji Dong Won.
Newcastle: Tim Krul; Danny Simpson, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini, Ryan Taylor; Gabriel Obertan, Joey Barton, Yohan Cabaye, Cheik Tiote, Jonas Gutierrez; Shola Ameobi.
Subs: Steve Harper, Mike Williamson, Leon Best, Dan Gosling, Demba Ba, Peter Lovenkrands, Sylvain Marveaux.
Referee: Howard Webb.