Sunderland are aiming to put an end to a nine-game winless run in the Premier League when they face Newcastle in the local derby, but that is easier said then done. The Tyne-Wear derby should be a very entertaining encounter with both sides fighting for the Premiership survival. Nevertheless, the hosts are slight favourites to win the derby as several important players return to the starting line-up.
Since the top striker Demba Ba left the club, Newcastle have been struggling, especially in the Premier League. In midweek Magpies ended their European journey, so having lost to Benfica in the Europe League quarter-final tie, Newcastle are now on a mission to ensure playing in the top flight for at least another season. Boosted by a late Papiss Cisse winner against Fulham last week the Magpies are eager to continue the winning run when they take on bitter rivals Sunderland this weekend. Alan Pardew’s men are just five points clear of Sunderland who are in the dangerous zone, meaning this should be a classic relegation six-pointer. In case of winning Newcastle would certainly be closer to the Premier League survival, while their neighbours would be in a very difficult position. Given that Steven Taylor, Hatem Ben Arfa and Yoan Gouffran will be ready to play at St James’s Park, the hosts are certainly closer to winning the high-profile clash.
Following the 2:1 defeat against Chelsea on Paolo Di Canio’s Sunderland debut, the Black Cats are now on a nine-match winless run in the Premier League. Sunderland took the lead just before the break at Stamford Bridge, but the Blues overcame the deficit in the second half. The team currently occupy seventeenth position in the standings and they are level on points with Wigan, who are in the relegation zone, but with the game in hand, meaning that Paolo Di Canio’s men face a must-win match at St James’ park this weekend. Sunderland’s performances have been pretty poor on the travels this season, so they could face another difficult task as Newcastle have turned their St James’ park into a real fortress over the years. The team have not picked up a single point from last four games away from home. Considering that the Black Cats will be looking for a vital win in Newcastle, the team are likely to adopt attack-minded approach, but I believe that the hosts should take advantage of that and create a lots of chances to score on the counter-attacks.