Premier League – Newcastle United v Sunderland Preview
Sunderland have only won one of the last 14 Tyne-Wear derby matches and haven’t recorded a victory at St James’ Park (sorry, the Sports Direct Arena) since the year 2000 so the odds appear stacked against the Mackems this weekend.
The Magpies are still in there pitching for a Europa League spot next season after enjoying a season that their fans can only have dreamed of. Their league position would have looked a whole lot better had they not thrown away a two-goal lead against struggling Wolves last Saturday however. Goals from Papiss Cisse and Jonas Guitterez appeared to have put United in full control but their defence, so reliable for much of this season, took their eye off the ball in the second half. Manager Alan Pardew was understandably disappointed but there is unlikely to be a repeat performance against Sunderland with local bragging rights at stake and Newcastle look a decent bet at 23/20 to get back to winning ways bearing in mind that they’ve only lost twice at home this term and have already won at the Stadium Of Light.
That success came before the Martin O’Neill revolution began at Sunderland and there’s no doubt that the Wearsiders are a more combative and organised outfit since the Irishman took over the reins. Last week’s 4-0 defeat at West Brom was a wake-up call, however, and shows there is still much work to be done, though prior to their Hawthorns debacle Sunderland had only lost two of their previous 10 games and those were against Chelsea and Arsenal.
There hasn’t been a goalless draw between Newcastle and Sunderland since 1985 and that statistic shouldn’t be disturbed this week as both teams like to play on the front foot. Cisse and top scorer Demba Ba already look to be forming a decent partnership up front for United and will be a threat to the visitors, who may now be concentrating their efforts for the remainder of the season on the FA Cup with little to play for in the league. Fraizer Campbell and Nicklas Bendtner could return in attack for Sunderland, however, to supplement the excellent Stephane Sessegnon so backing both teams to score at 4/6 makes plenty of appeal. Newcastle to win 2-1 is 15/2 and a 3-1 correct score is available at 16/1.