Sunderland v Newcastle TOTT Preview
Sunday sees the High Noon shoot out at SR5 1SU. The match has already been billed as Bruce`s revenge. Will the Magpies face the music, or is Stevie just a daydream believer?
The Tyne-Wear confrontation has come under different circumstances, but rarely in recent years with both teams in the top half of the top flight. At stake is not just local pride. Sunderland have a chance of moving into a definite UEFA spot on goal difference, either after this match or depending on the result of the late afternoon game at White Hart Lane. Victory for Newcastle would see them also in a position to launch a similar challenge.
After a weekend of cup shocks, the 2nd flock of Magpies in just over a week visit the Stadium of Light. Bruce will obviously be hoping it is 2 for joy following the dismal cup display against Notts County. Although the Toon could fear the backlash, they of course are ready to produce a potential backlash of their own.
For the visiting manager there is a possible omen. Looking for a 2nd Toon double of the season, this was last achieved by the visitors under 2 managers, one a coach who had been promoted from within, Glenn Roeder, the other being a midfielder who was an unpopular choice, Souness. Other post war doubles were completed by Sir Bobby, Keegan and Stan Seymour.
Pardew will not want to be the first permanent Newcastle manager since Bill McGarry in 1980 to lose in Sunderland, the temp Joe Kinnear losing his 3rd match in charge. The previous permanent manager to lose in the top flight was the legendary Joe Harvey way back in 1967, Ian McColl being the Sunderland manager last responsible for consecutive Sunderland wins.
There will be a couple of enforced changes from the 5-1 win at St James in October. Tiote is suspended whilst this appears a game too early for local lad Andy Carroll. It will be remembered that Tiote had weathered a storm from Malbranque and Cattermole at St James` at the start of the game before turning the tide in dramatic fashion. A 3rd change will see Steve Harper, unbeaten in 4 local derbies, definitely start in goal.
Fortunately, the first choice defence should be just about available. Enrique is expected to return on the left with Simpson continuing on the right. In the middle is a choice with Coloccini, Williamson and Steve Taylor all in contention.
Midfield is where the selection problems are perhaps at their hardest. Nolan picks himself after the hat trick at home. Jonas should be fit to return wide. Barton will play, his position decided probably on whether a 4-5-1 is employed and perhaps on the striking combination. Were Carroll fit, then his crossing from the right would be a must. Routledge could see him move into the middle, whilst Smith would have been seen as Tiote`s natural replacement but for being off the pace so far this term.
Other midfield options include Guthrie, keen to make amends for his bizarre error and injury last time out against West Brom. Hoping to make his senior debut is Dan Gosling, himself already a hero of a Merseyside derby, scoring his 2nd Everton goal 2 seasons ago, his first having come against Sunderland.
Leading the line will be a striker who also has a good record against Sunderland, Shola Ameobi who has 6 goals against them to go with his record of 4 against the Teesside neighbours. Following his hat trick against West Ham, Leon Best will expect to be in contention, as Peter Lovenkrands, who with a strike rate of 0.71 goals per game in his Newcastle career is the most prolific. Nile Ranger will also hope to play a part.
The home team are hoping for a number of players to return, strengthening the squad considerably. Gordon should resume in goal, having 3 clean sheets out of his last 4 home games, to go with the away win against Villa.
The return of Onuoha at right back will allow Bardsley to switch to the left, having suffered a torrid time against Jonas at St James which led to the sending off of Newcastle old boy, Bramble in the reverse fixture. Bramble will again partner Ferdinand, a former protégé of the Newcastle manager.
Man Utd loanee and joint 2nd top league scorer, Welbeck, is tipped to return, being unimpressive in the 5-1 defeat. Cattermole may also be fit, and will be remembered for his horrific lunge at Barton while at Wigan. Richardson is expected to move forward into midfield with Henderson hoping to recover from an anonymous display at St James`.
Up front, to scorer Bent scored a consolation in Newcastle, and will probably be partnered by Ghanain Gyan, a player with obvious flair, but so far with a strike rate of 1 per 3 starts overall, but only 1 in his last 9.
Referee for the occasion is Howard Webb, not known for his generosity to Newcastle, but who could preside over consecutive away wins having last run out at Wigan. This is 2nd Tyne-Wear derby, having done a 1-1 at St James`. Since then, Sunderland have won only one game out of three under him at the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland will start as favourites, with the more expensive squad and the higher team in the tables. In this fixture, Newcastle can never be underestimated with one home win in the last 13 games, and 2 wins in 43 years. On balance, a draw seems a fair bet
Newcastle in Sunderland
69 W20 D26 L23 F93 A99
8 W4 D3 L1 F13 A8
underland (from): Gordon, Mignolet, Onuoha, Bardsley, Richardson, Angeleri, Ferdinand, Bramble, Da Silva, Cattermole, Zenden, Riveros, Henderson, Malbranque, Elmohamady, Reid, Colback, Bent, Gyan, Welbeck, Adams, Cook, Reed.
ewcastle (from): Harper, Krul, Simpson, Perch, Ferguson, Enrique, Coloccini, Williamson, Barton, Nolan, Smith, Routledge, Gutierrez, Guthrie, Gosling, Vuckic, Donaldson, Ameobi, Lovenkrands, Best, Ranger.