There is literally no need for me to waffle on in an attempt to build this one up. It’s big enough as it is.
Tyne-Wear derbies are always hotly contested affairs and I have little doubt that this one will be any different. In fact you could say that this one has some added edge to the game.
Both sides have hardly been pulling up trees domestically this season and both sides languish in the lower half of the table. Admittedly United’s position is slightly better than that of the Mackems but the carrot of three points will be an incentive for both sides who have their own agenda to look after, but they could also have a say on how the rest of the season pans out for the opposition.
A home win and we can pretty much forget about relegation and start tentatively looking forward to next season, all whilst dropping those pesky inbreeds deeper into the brown stuff. An away win would give Sunderland hope and would drag us back into the relegation mix although I don’t wish to contemplate losing this game. A draw is no good to either side really although you could probably say that it would be worse for Sunderland than it would be for us.
Yoan Gouffran and Mathieu Debuchy are eligible to play after missing out against Benfica. The latter of the two has been injured but could return to action tomorrow.
Another recent absentee who could be available is Cheik Tiote while Steven Taylor should be fine to return to the starting XI after sitting out the draw against Benfica. Hatem Ben Arfa came through his Europa League return unscathed but a lack of football means he will have to make do with a space on the bench. Sylvain Marveaux is also available.
However we are without Ryan Taylor, Haris Vuckic, Davide Santon and Fabricio Coloccini who are all sidelined through injury although the latter of that list should be available for the trip to West Brom next weekend.
Steven Fletcher and Lee Cattermole are both unavailable for the remainder of the season. Titus Bramble, Daid Vaughan and Connor Wickham are doubts while Danny Graham and Carlos Cuellar will undergo fitness tests ahead of the match to determine their availability. Craig Gardner will miss the game through suspension.
The reverse fixture earlier on in the season ended 1-1 with a late own goal from Demba Ba cancelling out Yohan Cabaye’s early opener.
This will be the 148th derby between the two sides. Currently United hold the advantage with 54 wins compared to 44 for Sunderland. The other 47 matches have, as you can guess, ended in a draw.
Stats and facts:
A fifth home league win in a row would be the first time we’ve managed such a feat since the 2003/2004 season.
Sunderland have lost their last four away games and have conceded at least two goals in each of the last six away matches.
Newcastle have kept just five cleans sheets in the Premier league this season. Four of those have come at St James’ Park.
Strap yourself in is my message. It’s going to be another one of those stomach-turning, gut-wrenching derby days. The form book says home win, but the problem with these games is that form goes out of the window and can’t be relied upon.
In an ideal world we’d sweep the Mackems away playing some nice football, but again nice football doesn’t tend to feature too much in derby games as blood and guts come to the fore.
We can do it, undoubtedly, but the pressure is on us to claim the bragging rights in front of our own fans. It’s important the players savour the occasion and relish it, but it’s also vitally important that none of them get carried away with it all and keep a level head, which is something I won’t be able to do!
Howay the lads!
Date: Sunday, 14th April, 2013
Time: 12:00 – Live on Sky
Venue: St James’ Park