Date: Sunday, 22nd Oct.
Kick off: 1:30pm
Referee: Martin Atkinson.
UK TV: Sky Sports 1.
This will be referee Martin Atkinson’s second outing this season in charge of a Newcastle game, after handling our season opening home victory over Spurs.
His previous engagement with us was at SJP back in April when he presided over our 2-0 victory over Liverpool, booking Andy Carroll for trying to win a penalty and dismissing Jose Reina for losing his rag with James Perch. Earlier in the season, he red-carded Martin Olsson while refereeing Blackburn’s visit to SJP while also sending off Dan Gosling during our visit to Carrow Road.
Journey to the land that time forgot.
After what has seemed like an age, the Premier League returns this weekend for a round of full blooded, up and at ‘em games and none will be more full or red blooded than the 147th Tyne Wear derby at the Stade du Merde on Sunday, 21st October. Both teams go into the game knowing that a win is the very minimum that their respective fans will demand and, if the players needed reminding, bragging rights will continue until April 13th next year when the unwashed will make their annual trip to civilisation for the return.
The Mackems started the season reasonably well, even if they have yet to record back to back league wins. Arguably it is the difficult opening fixture list that is mostly to blame for the fact that Sunderland picked up just 7 points from first 6 league games, with the 3-0 defeat at the Etihad Stadium possibly the only below par performance of the campaign.
A home win over Wigan and a 1-1 draw with Liverpool should keep the Black Cats in good humour for one of the biggest games of their season. This time the enemy have finally managed to purchase a striker with enough goal threat to cause the Toon defence some problems. Ever since the prolific Bent left in somewhat acrimonious circumstances, their biggest problem has been hitting the target. So far Fletcher has been a revelation after joining the Black Cats from Wolves, and has already scored five goals from just 11 attempts, making him the highest scoring British player in the Premier League.
With the addition of Adam Johnson on the right and the lively McLean improving with every game, the Mackems have the foundations for a creative and attacking front three. However Martin O’Neill has stuck with 4-4-1-1 for most of this season with Sessegnon playing just behind Fletcher and a midfield consisting of the two “wide men” plus Larsson (once tipped to join the Toon) and Colback. The mugger in chief, Cattermole, will not be playing as he’s currently suspended but not (according to Nufc.com) by his knackers from a tall building!
This is the Mackems 12th season in the Premier League, and during that time they have only finished above their illustrious neighbours on three occasions. The Premier League head to head illustrates that statistic and shows we’ve come out on top in 9 of the fixtures while the unwashed have managed only three wins with the remaining eight games all square.
The overall league history shows the Mighty Mags in the lead in the head to head records.
Total Games: 146
Alan Pardew’s side are unbeaten in the last five games between the two sides, winning twice and drawing three times, and Sunderland haven’t kept a clean sheet in this fixture since 1990.
The Premier League stats (for those that wish to revel in the recent past) are as follows.
04 Mar 2012 Newcastle United v Sunderland – D 1-1 (Premier League)
20 Aug 2011 Sunderland v Newcastle United – W 0-1 (Premier League)
16 Jan 2011 Sunderland v Newcastle United – D 1-1 (Premier League)
31 Oct 2010 Newcastle United v Sunderland – W 5-1 (Premier League)
01 Feb 2009 Newcastle United v Sunderland – D 1-1 (Premier League)
25 Oct 2008 Sunderland v Newcastle United – L 2-1 (Premier League)
20 Apr 2008 Newcastle United v Sunderland – W 2-0 (Premier League)
10 Nov 2007 Sunderland v Newcastle United – D 1-1 (Premier League)
17 Apr 2006 Sunderland v Newcastle United – W 1-4 (Premier League)
23 Oct 2005 Newcastle United v Sunderland – W 3-2 (Premier League)
26 Apr 2003 Sunderland v Newcastle United – W 0-1 (Premier League)
21 Sep 2002 Newcastle United v Sunderland – W 2-0 (Premier League)
24 Feb 2002 Sunderland v Newcastle United – W 0-1 (Premier League)
26 Aug 2001 Newcastle United v Sunderland – D 1-1 (Premier League)
21 Apr 2001 Sunderland v Newcastle United – D 1-1 (Premier League)
18 Nov 2000 Newcastle United v Sunderland – L 1-2 (Premier League)
05 Feb 2000 Sunderland v Newcastle United – D 2-2 (Premier League)
25 Aug 1999 Newcastle United v Sunderland – L 1-2 (Premier League)
05 Apr 1997 Newcastle United v Sunderland – D 1-1 (Premier League)
04 Sep 1996 Sunderland v Newcastle United – W 1-2 (Premier League)
Whatever the result on Sunday let us hope that United keep their cool on the pitch along with the fans off it, so we can avoid some of the unseemly incidents which have marred recent derbies. During the last 4 games between the two sides there have been 4 red cards for Sunderland, and 25 yellows between the teams with wor Cheick probably receiving the lion’s share
Right-back Phil Bardsley (ankle) may come into contention following his return to fitness and the same applies to Wes Brown (knee), although his comeback is less likely than Bardsley’s. Craig Gardner should continue at the back alongside John O’Shea and Carlos Cuellar, however, Danny Rose’s place in the Black Cats side could be in doubt following the aftermath of England Under-21s game against Serbia in midweek. The 22-year-old was subjected to racist abuse in that match, and boss Martin O’Neill has admitted the left-back’s state of mind would be assessed coming in to the game. James McClean (groin) is back but Titus Bramble is a doubt (always has been as far as Toon are concerned).
Sunderland AFC: Simon Mignolet (G), Keiren Westwood (G), Phil Bardsley (D), John O’Shea (D), Carlos Cuéllar (D), Danny Rose (D), Titus Bramble (D), Matthew Kilgallon (D), John Egan (D), Adam Johnson (M), Sebastian Larsson (M), Craig Gardner (M), Jack Colback (M), James McClean (M), David Vaughan (M), David Meyler (M), Adam Reed (M), Stéphane Sessègnon (M, F), Steven Fletcher (F), Fraizer Campbell (F), Ji Dong-Won (F), Louis Saha (F), Connor Wickham (F).
Doubtful: Titus Bramble (hip), Phil Bardsley (ankle), Danny Rose (racism).
Knacked: Wes Brown (knee).
Suspended: Lee Cattermole (last of three).
On the good news injury front for Toon, Steven Taylor (calf), Tim Krul (elbow) and Fabricio Coloccini (hamstring) all returned to training this week and are likely to play a part in Sunday’s game. Shane Ferguson (thigh) is also expected to pass a fitness test and possibly earn a place on the bench? Still sidelined are Rob Elliot (groin) and Dan Gosling (knee), whilst Haris Vuckic and Ryan Taylor are out for the majority of the season.
Newcastle United: Tim Krul (G), Steve Harper (G), Danny Simpson (D), Mike Williamson (D), Davide Santon (D), James Tavernier (D), James Perch (D, M), Shane Ferguson (D, M), Vurnon Anita (M, D), Cheick Tiote (M), Yohan Cabaye (M), Jonas Gutierrez (M), Gael Bigirimana (M), Sylvain Marveaux (M), Gabriel Obertan (M), Mehdi Abeid (M), Romain Amalfitano (M), Hatem Ben Arfa (M, F), Sammy Ameobi (M, F), Demba Ba (F), Papiss Cisse (F), Shola Ameobi (F), Adam Campbell (F).
Doubtful: Tim Krul (elbow), Shane Ferguson (hip),
Knacked: Rob Elliot (G, groin), Ryan Taylor (D, M, knee – ACL), Haris Vuckic (M, F knee – ACL), Dan Gosling (knee)
As usual I will try to predict two possible line ups for the Toon. Pardew’s, and my preferred choice.
Both teams come into this game off the back of 3-0 defeats to teams from Manchester so, without a win in the last six away games, Toon need to get a positive result at the SoL for all sorts of reasons. We currently lie in 12th place in the table, we have yet to record more than one half of decent football from any of our previous 7 games this season and the biggest issue of all – the Mackems will go above us in the table if they get the win.
This is THE game that Pardwho has to get right not only in terms of tactics but also team selection. Sunday is not the time for two under performing strikers to wander around the pitch like lost souls so a positive, attacking front three would go a long way towards instilling confidence in the team and winning those valuable three points.