That time has come around again, it’s that week, the week where the Sunderland fans pipe up out of their holes and claim they’re going to smash us all over St James’ Park. Yes, its Derby week, but we’ve heard it all before boys, It didn’t happen last year, did it?
They were quite this season, barely heard a peep out of them after Ryan Taylor bent a beautiful free kick over the wall at the Stadium of Light, but since their resurgence under Martin O’Neill they’re out in force.
Normally I’d be quite nervous, and there’s people left, right and centre telling me to be nervous, “they’ve improved under O’Neill, they’re a good team now, they’ll be a hard game”. Most Derby games are hard, but really, they’re not in much better form than us, actually, in the last 6 league games they’re in worse form than us.
In the last 6 games Newcastle have picked up 10 points to Sunderland’s 9, and although our result at the weekend wasn’t a good one, they’re on the back of a 4-0 mauling to West Brom, a team who have been struggling to win at home of late.
They went into the West Brom game with no centre forward, they played Stephane Sessengon up front alone something Steve Bruce was slaughtered for doing, They lack class up front, which is something which we have an abundance of at this current time.
There’s no doubt that O’Neill will have them up for it, but Pardew has shown time and time again that he can inspire the players, and they’re normally ready for the big games. Look at the Man Utd game, the atmosphere was rocking and we played them off the park, we’re a stronger team now with the introduction of Papiss Cisse.
The players know that they’ve got the chance of going out there and doing the double over the team’s biggest rivals, and if that’s not motivation enough, we’ve got Liverpool on our tails and they’ll be looking to stay ahead of them. We’ve not done the double over Sunderland since the 2005/2006 season and Sunday is a great chance to change that.
Sunderland have not won at St James Park’ in over 10 years, Saturday 18th November 2000 to be exact, so they’re hardly coming into this game with recent record on their side. Some of their players like Simon Mignolet will not be able to forget the carnage of last year, and hopefully we’ll see the same this year.
I’m sure my Derby Day nerves will start to hit me on the Saturday when I’m travelling up to Newcastle, but for now I’m pretty content. I don’t for one second think we’re going to destroy them, and beat them 5-1 again, but they are nothing to fear, just another average mid table Premier League side, a team with a bad record against us, who we should be beating at home.
I’ve not wrote for a while, so I’ve not been able to air my views, so it’ll be interesting to see who people want to start in the Derby on Sunday, my team may be different to a few others but I’ll explain below, I’d play:
My team for Sunderland: Tim Krul, Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini, Davide Santon, Gabriel Obertan, Yohan Cabaye, Cheik Tiote, Jonas Gutierrez, Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse.
It was a massively tough decision to leave out Ryan Taylor, but I feel it has to be done at home. On Saturday we were very one paced in midfield, having Gabriel Obertan there will offer pace and something different down the wings, I know his end product isn’t great but he brings a lot more to the table than a lot think.
Away from home I’d still pick Ryan Taylor because he makes us more compact, but I don’t feel we have anything different on the right with him in the team, and at home we need to express ourselves a bit more.
I was desperate to find a place for Hatem Ben Arfa in that team too, but I couldn’t. I’m not a typical Ben Arfa fan, I like him, but sometimes I can’t see how he’d fit into our team. He offers so much going forward and he really is talented, but I couldn’t trust him to do the tracking back against the rampant James McClean, so I couldn’t include him.
Mike Williamson is also there because we don’t really have any other choice, which is a shame. I really miss having Steven Taylor back there, with Steven Taylor still in the team I’d be a lot more confident about pushing for the top 5.
So that’s my team, what would be yours? And why?
PS: Let the Mackems shout their mouths off, let them claim they’re going to beat us, and if it doesn’t go to plan for them on Sunday, we can be smug once again.
HOWAY THE LADS!