The derby at St James’ Park is the one fixture I always used to make sure I could get to.
No matter what I had planned, whether it be work or anything, I would give it up just to be there to cheer on United.
However in recent years the derby has taken a sinister turn with trouble flaring off the pitch. I’m getting too old for that and can’t be bothered with the hassle (because I can’t just walk away!) so missed out last season and will be again this season. The derby has turned toxic.
However there is a motion with this one to put the passion to the fore whilst leaving the aggro at the door. Both sets of fans have been guilty of it, most notably after the last derby on Tyneside where the result didn’t help but the reactions of a few were completely over the top.
We’ve suffered at the hands of the Mackems in recent times and face the possibility of losing three Tyne-Wear derbies on the spin for the first time since 1923. To stop that happening we need to keep cool heads and play with commitment and take our chances when they come. There may be a gulf in the league standings, but in these games it is who wants it more on the day.
Loic Remy will miss out through suspension after having his appeal for his red card at Norwich turned down but not extended, which confuses me. Being upheld means that surely it was a frivolous appeal, so why didn’t the FA extend the ban to four games?
Also missing are Yoan Gouffran and Fabricio Coloccini while Ryan Taylor remains our only long-term injury concern. Luuk De Jong looks likely to occupy a space on the bench due to a lack of match fitness. Papiss Cisse should be fine to play after missing out against Norwich.
Carlos Cuellar and Kieran Westwood will miss the game through injury. Phil Bardsley will be assessed after limping off against Stoke. New signings Ignacio Scocco and Liam Bridcutt are not likely to start the game.
This will be the 150th competitive Tyne-Wear derby with results being fairly evenly split over those encounters. United have won 53 times, Sunderland have won 47 times with 49 draws making up the numbers.
At St James’ Park we have been stronger than Sunderland having win 31 of 68 matches played on Tyneside compared to 19 wins for the Mackems. However, more recently, it’s worth noting that we’ve not beaten Sunderland at home since that famous 5-1.
Stats and facts…
A total of five red cards have been shown in the last seven league games between the two sides.
Shola Ameobi has scored seven goals in his last ten Tyne-Wear derbies. Only Jackie Milburn has scored more goals in this fixture.
Topical since Yohan Cabaye has now left, but United won only four of the 20 games Cabaye missed during his time on Tyneside.
Newcastle have failed to score in four of the last five league games and have won one game in the last six outings.
Adam Johnson has scored or assisted each of Sunderland’s last seven Premier League goals.
Sunderland have lost just one of the last eight matches and are unbeaten in their last five away games.
Granted I was all calm and placid at the start but by the time kick-off arrives tomorrow I’ll be just as radgie as ever and will be screaming for us to get into them. At themoment though everything seems low key. Maybe it’s the midweek games? Maybe the closure of the transfer window the day before the match is playing a part? Maybe it’s because Sunderland have an actual cup final to look forward to rather than treating their jolly to SJP as their annual cup final?
After the loss of Cabaye we need a win. I’m still not sure how we didn’t win at Norwich after hitting the woodwork so many times and wasting some guilt-edged chances, but what better way to get things back on track than a win against you’re local rivals? We need it, the players need it, and Alan Pardew needs it.
Howay the lads!
Date: Saturday, 1st February, 2014
Venue: St James’ Park