Newcastle — Sunderland (Premier League)
Premier League’s week 24 starts with the Tyne-Wear Derby at St. James Park. Nothing like a local rivalry to spice things up. And January is all about transfers so both sides will be anxious to try some of the reinforcements on. We’ll all take a peak, Saturday at lunch time.
Newcastle are currently 8th in the Premier League table with 37 points, 3 behind United and 5 clear of the Saints. Not a bad place to sit. And now two roads present, either settle for a comfortable slightly up-mid-table spot or aim for higher ground. Their actions in the January market spell “ambition”.
The Magpies sold Yohan Cabaye to Paris Saint Germain for £20 million and have some cash to spend. Luuk de Jong grabbed the opportunity to join from Borussia Monchengladbach. The Dutch striker had a hard time in the Bundesliga, going scoreless for 13 appearances. His abilities, as showed at Twente, are undeniable. In Germany he was blocked out by Kruse and Araújo, not getting enough minutes on the pitch. And he needs it to apply for a spot in the Dutch National Team in Brazil. Lyon’s Clement Grenier is apparently being targeted as Cabaye’s successor in Newcastle’s midfield. The 23 year-old Frenchman is a free-kick expert and plays well with both feet.
Pardew will need all the reinforcements he can get. Until February ends his men will face Sunderland (H), Chelsea (A), Tottenham (H) and Aston Villa (H), all of them in desperate need of points.
Loic Remy is serving suspension following the red card received against Norwich. Just one more in the long list of unavailable: Ryan Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini, Gael Bigirimana, Gabriel Obertan and Papiss Cissé. Yoan Gouffran missed last game through injury and is still a doubt. It’s still unclear whether or not new signing de Jong will even be on the bench.
Probable line-up: Krul — Debuchy, Williamson, Taylor, Santon — Tioté, Anita — Arfa, Sissoko, Sammy Ameobi — Shola Ameobi.
Last Wednesday, at the Stadium of Light, Adam Johnson’s winner against Stoke lifted the Black Cats off the relegation zone. They are 17th with 21 points which mean a 2 point gap to the bottom trio. It’s short but beggars can’t be choosers. And it’s also a sign in a more significant pattern, Gus Poyet’s side have only lost 1 of their last 8 League fixtures (3W/ 4D). And just as well. February holds clash with Newcastle, Hull City, Manchester City, Southampton and Arsenal. Losing points will be a lot easier than they might like.
Lee Cattermole missed last game due to calf injury and is no secret he is a player of Mark Hughes liking. There’s a strong possibility he’s on his way to Britannia and that is way Sunderland is keeping an eye on Brighton midfielder Liam Bridcutt, a Stamford Bridge Academy offspring that has been maturing down south. The Black Cats already secured the services of Marcos Alonso, on loan from Fiorentina, Argentinians Oscar Ustari and Santiago Vergini. On Thursday a third Argentinian joined the pack, striker Ignacio Scocco. If there’s a thing Sunderland requires is a new face to boost the goal-scoring department.
The Black Cats will have to make do without Keiren Westwood, Carlos Cuéllar and Lee Cattermole.
Probable line-up: Mannone — Bardsley, O’Shea, Brown, Alonso — Ki, Colback, Larsson — Johnson, Altidore, Borini.
Magpies and Black Cats faced each other 121 times in the Premier League and Newcastle has a small advantage since the result went their way 46% of the times. In more recent year, however, things are more balanced. In 10 derbies each squad came out on top 3 times, along with 4 draws. Talking about a stalemate! The reverse tie, in October, was a 2-1 victory for Sunderland.