Duh… it’s the TYNE-WEAR DERBY.
It’s not been the best of weeks for Newcastle
. After top scorer Loic Remy was sent off at Norwich for being a silly boy, the Magpies’ worst January fears were realised when Yohan Cabaye completed his £20m-plus move to PSG
- Norwich 0–0 Newcastle (Prem)
- West Ham 1–3 Newcastle (Prem)
- Newcastle 0–2 Man City (Prem)
- Newcastle 1–2 Cardiff (FAC)
- WBA 1–0 Newcastle (Prem)
- S'land 1-0 Stoke (Prem)
- S'land 1–0 Kidderminster (FAC)
- Man Utd 2–1p S'land (LC)
- S'land 2–2 So'ton (Prem)
- Fulham 1–4 S'land (Prem)
It’s good money that boosts the coffers for a summer assault, but replacing the team’s most influential player poses a big challenge for Pardew in the short-term. Moussa Sissoko seems the most likely candidate to fill his compatriot’s No.10 void for now.
Thanks to their excellent first half of the season, though, the pressure is off Pardew to achieve big in the Premier League this season. The Magpies are currently five points clear of ninth-placed Southampton, but unlikely to trouble those above them in the top seven.
That’s certainly no biggie, however – at this stage last season the Magpies were four points clear of the drop zone in 16th.
Across the Tyne at Sunderland
, things are looking up. Not only are the Black Cats preparing for a League Cup final in February, but Gus Poyet’s men are enjoying reason for optimism in the league.
The Black Cats hoisted themselves out of the bottom three for the first time since late August with victory over Stoke
at the Stadium of Light, as Adam Johnson continued his purple patch with a sixth goal in as many games.
Poyet still has problems – namely his strikers’ inability to find the net (here’s looking at you Jozy Altidore) – so don’t be surprised to see a switch in personnel with slightly-less-goal-shy Steven Fletcher replacing the misfiring American.
Traditionally this derby is anything but predictable – in the 11 meetings since 2008/09 there have been six draws, three Sunderland wins and two for Newcastle. The Mackems are unbeaten in four derbies and hunting a third straight league win over their arch rivals for the first time since 1923. Your guess is as good as ours.
Yoan Gouffran should return to replace Sammy Ameobi in attack, but the game comes too soon for new man De Jong, who’ll only be good for a place on the bench at best. Papiss Cisse (back) is still sidelined, as are Gael Bigirimana (ankle), Fabricio Coloccini and Ryan Taylor (both knee). Remy begins his three-match ban.
Lee Cattermole is expected to be available after missing out in midweek, but Keiren Westwood (shoulder) and Carlos Cuellar (hip) are out.
Key battle: Moussa Sissoko vs John O’Shea
It’s Moussa’s time to shine – or at least that’s what Pardew is hoping. With the Magpies’ star man Cabaye gone and forgotten, someone must step up to the unenviable task of creating (and scoring) in his absence.
But, as Sissoko showed against Norwich on Tuesday night, the 24-year-old France international will make a good fist of it if Pardew does elect to shift him inside from his usual position out wide. In a game of very few passes (Cheick Tiote made the most with a paltry 41), Sissoko stepped up and made his count. No player made more in the attacking third, but most impressively he turned 5 of those 12 into goalscoring opportunities.
Against Sunderland it’ll be the likes of John O’Shea attempting to stop him in his tracks. And if the Irishman’s display against Stoke is anything to go by, Poyet’s men can feel safe; the former Manchester United man was reliable in his passing (47/49), completed all 5 of his attempted tackles, made a game-high 8 clearances and completed 2 interceptions. Steady stuff.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- S'land 2–1 N'castle (Prem, Oct 13)
- N'castle 0–3 S'land (Prem, Apr 13)
- S'land 1-1 N'castle (Prem, Oct 12)
- N'castle 1–1 S'land (Prem, Mar 12)
- S'land 0-1 N'castle (Prem, Aug 11)
Four meetings between the pair; four wins for Poyet.
Fabio Borini’s 84th-minute winner earned Gus his first Premier League win over Pardew, having masterminded Brighton’s successive FA cup scalps over Newcastle and a Championship win over Pardew’s Southampton back in November 2009.
It doesn’t stop there, though – as a player Poyet knocked in four goals in 11 games against the Magpies. Forgive Toon fans if they’re not looking forward to this one as much as usual.
TIPS & TRENDS
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Facts and figures
- Newcastle have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 6 Premier League games at St James' Park.
- Fabio Borini has scored in each of his 2 Premier League appearances against Newcastle.
- Newcastle have had win/win results in their last 6 wins against bottom-six teams.
- Shola Ameobi has scored more goals against Sunderland (7) than he has managed against any other Premier League opponent.
- There have been 5 red cards shown in the last 7 Premier League meetings.
- Newcastle have conceded first in their last 3 home matches
- Adam Johnson has scored or assisted each of Sunderland’s last 7 Premier League goals.
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