Newcastle will be hopeful of ending a run of three consecutive derby defeats when they host Sunderland in the Tyne-Wear derby on Sunday (13:30 GMT, live on Sky Sports).
The Magpies come into the fixture on the back of successive heavy defeats to Arsenal (in the league) and Tottenham Hotspur (in the Capital One Cup). They are, though, currently eighth in the Premier League table, with 23 points from six wins, five draws and five defeats.
Alan Pardew’s side were never really in the game after conceding an early goal away to Arsenal last weekend. Their hosts created the better chances thereafter and were deserved 4-1 victors. Newcastle were similarly outplayed away to Tottenham on Wednesday, conceding once in the first half and three more times after the break to fall to a 4-0 defeat.
It has been a difficult week for Pardew and certainly not the ideal preparation for the visit of the club’s local rivals. Newcastle had put together a strong run of six wins in eight matches prior to the trip to Arsenal, culminating in a 2-1 victory at home to league leaders Chelsea, but confidence will clearly have been dented by back-to-back defeats of such magnitude.
Newcastle have generally been quite solid in defence so far this season and have also carried a threat on the counter-attack, with plenty of pace and power in transition. However, they do lack a little creativity in the centre of the pitch, while injuries to their two first-choice goalkeepers have forced Pardew to call on the inexperienced Jak Alnwick in recent matches.
Pardew will again be without Robert Elliot (thigh) and Tim Krul (ankle) for Sunday’s match, while injuries also continue to sideline Davide Santon (knee), Gabriel Obertan (thigh), Rolando Aarons (hamstring), Ryan Taylor (knee) and Siem de Jong (thigh). A number of players are carrying knocks following the midweek defeat to Tottenham but should be okay.
Sunderland make the short trip to St James’ Park after extending their winless run to six matches with a 1-1 draw at home to West Ham last weekend. They are 15th in the Premier League table, with 16 points from two wins, 10 draws and four defeats.
The Black Cats took an early lead on Saturday when Jordi Gomez converted from the penalty spot after Adam Johnson had gone down under minimal contact inside the area. Their visitors did, however, strike back less than 10 minutes later and had slightly the better of the game thereafter. Jozy Altidore somehow managed to miss Sunderland’s best chance.
It was the 10th draw of the season for Gustavo Poyet’s (pictured) side – three more than any other team – and he admitted afterwards that while he was pleased with his side’s defensive display, they had lacked quality going forward. Bar their disastrous 8-0 defeat away to Southampton, Sunderland have otherwise conceded just over a goal per match on average.
The bad news for Poyet is that they have scored less than a goal per match so far. This tally is a result of Sunderland taking both a lower number of shots (10.7, the third lowest in the league) and shots on target (3.3, joint 15th) than most of the other teams in the league. They lack pace and incision in the final third. Last season’s loanee Fabio Borini is clearly missed.
Poyet will definitely be without the injured Patrick Van Aanholt (shoulder) for Sunday’s derby, while Billy Jones (hamstring) and Emanuele Giaccherini (ankle) are both highly unlikely to take part.
Newcastle v Sunderland Betting Tips
Sunderland were triumphant in both of last season’s fixtures between these sides, winning 2-1 at the Stadium of Light and 3-0 at St James’ Park in February. They also won by the same 3-0 scoreline at St James’ Park during the 2012-13 season. The last eight Tyne-Wear derbies at all venues have seen three wins for Sunderland and two for Newcastle.
Newcastle will be hoping to bounce back from a difficult week by taking three points against their neighbours. But they may well struggle to break down what is generally a secure and well-organised Sunderland defensive unit. The Magpies are quick and physically strong but lack the ingenuity to create regular chances against deep-lying defensive blocks.
Sunderland have played largely unadventurous football so far this season. They are currently on a run of five draws in their last six league matches, including three 0-0s. Poyet will clearly seek attacking reinforcements in the January transfer window but with his team in its current state, he is likely to keep things tight and play for a draw on Sunday.
- Back the draw @ best odds of 5/2 with Bet365, Betfred, BetVictor or Coral.
- Five of Sunderland’s and four of Newcastle’s last six league matches have ended with two or less goals. To varying degrees, both sides have struggled for goals so far this season and this is likely to be a tightly-contested and low-scoring match. Back under 2.5 goals @ best odds of 4/5 with Betfair Sportsbook.