It can be said that this game is always one of the most special on the football calendar, with both of these North East rivals constantly creating a ferocious encounter. With just two points separating both outfits at the current time there is little between the two and it will be interesting to see which club comes out on top.
After finishing last season in such poor fashion, expectations for Sunderland were very low as they approached the new term. The Black Cats spent very little in the transfer market over the summer months, although Martin O’Neill did end the transfer window with a bang after completing the signings of Steven Fletcher and Adam Johnson. It would be fair to say that the duo have made a huge impact at the Stadium of Light and with Fletcher already bagging five goals, they are certainly a threat going forward. One thing that can definitely be said about O’Neill’s side is that they are incredibly difficult to beat and the fact that they have drawn four of their opening six games highlights this. However, after suffering their first defeat of the Premier League season against Manchester City in their last game, it remains to be seen how they respond this weekend.
Newcastle on the other hand appear to be struggling to match their finish from last season. As most people thought the Magpies overachieved anyway, this probably hasn’t raised too many eyebrows, although Alan Pardew will be hoping that his team can kick on and improve on their current position of 10th. Just like their opponents, Newcastle were the victim of one of the Manchester clubs in their last game after they suffered a 3-0 defeat to United a couple of weeks ago. This means that the club have won just one game this term although they could establish themselves in the top half should they record their second three points of the season against their local rivals on Sunday.
As for team news, it’s certainly mixed for the home side with Sunderland firstly set to be without two players in the form of Titus Bramble and Lee Cattermole. The former is struggling with a hip injury, while Cattermole is still unavailable due to suspension. On a more positive note, Phil Bardsley and James McClean are back in contention following their respective injury concerns. Newcastle on the other hand are sweating on the fitness of several players, with the likes of Steven Taylor, Danny Simpson, Fabricio Coloccini and Tim Krul all doubtful following recent fitness concerns.
In terms of a prediction, Sunderland have been a decent outfit at the Stadium of Light over recent weeks and we think they will use this advantage in this game. Derby games are always difficult predict but bearing all factors in mind, our tip will be a 2-1 win for Martin O’Neill’s side.