Newcastle v Sunderland: The Premier League’s premier derby

Posted on March 2nd, 2012 | 61 Comments |

Sunderland fans.
Return of the Mackems.
Venue: St James’ Park.
Date: Sun 4th Mar 2012.
Kick-Off: High Noon.
Referee: Mike Dean.

It’s that time again. Time for the Mackems to rise the challenge of walking upright and drag themselves to St James’ Park for what is undoubtedly the best derby fixture the Premier League has on offer.

The Mackems have been somewhat rejuvenated under Martin O’Neill’s leadership although their form has stuttered a bit in their last two games. Then again, our form has suffered a similar dip in the last two games.

But form isn’t always a good indicator when it comes to derby matches anyway. Extra tension creeps in and it can sometimes be about mistakes and about which players rise to the challenge and which shirk away from it.

Both sides have been talking up the game of course. Yohan Cabaye said:

We have to be focused on this game and work very hard all week to play well and win the game on Sunday.

It is an unbelievable for the fans and for us as well. I hope to win for us and for the fans, because they are amazing.

Every game at home and away from home as well the supporters are brilliant. We know what this game means for them. We will be ready and they don’t have to be worried about that.

And Jonas said:

It is something fantastic and something we want to enjoy. But we want to stand out in the game.

I know they are coming here with a point to prove, and it will be difficult. We just want to get to what we have been doing.

Although preferably not what we were doing last weekend!

Meanwhile, on behalf of the Mackems, Martin O’Neill said:

I have experienced an awful lot of derbies, both as a player and as a manager, and in particular a very big derby in world football up in Glasgow between Celtic and Rangers

It’s a massive game and it’s one I am looking forward to. It’s a ferocious derby and I’m sure it will be played at a great pace.

We are away from home, which makes it difficult, but we have to be ready for it, and if we perform as strongly as we can, of course we can win it.

And midfielder Craig Gardner said:

It’s a massive game and a massive occasion. The last thing you want is players playing the occasion, getting sent off and giving away sloppy goals.

You get giddy coming up to it, but once that whistle goes you just need to be professional and play your game.

I always find these games hard to call, even on the back of our good record against the Mackems in recent years, so I decided to go for a 3-1 win for us in the prediction competition, based on hope as much as anything else!


Our record against Sunderland in the Premier League is pretty good, particularly in recent years.

Earlier this season we won 1-0 at the Stadium of Light thanks to a goal by Ryan Taylor. Last season we won 5-1 at home (Nolan x 3 and Ameobi x 2) and drew 1-1 away (Nolan).

There have been a couple of other high-scoring games between the teams in the Premier League years. Back in April 2006 we won 4-1 away thanks to goals from Chopra, Shearer, N’Zogbia and Luque, and there was a 3-2 thriller at St James’ Park in October 2005 (hard to believe that was 6.5 years ago): Ameobi opened the scoring for us, Liam Lawrence brought them level, Ameobi made it 2-1 and then Stephen Elliot levelled things again. Eventually it was Emre’s free kick that won the game for us.

Our biggest victory over Sunderland was 6-1 and we did that twice (October 1920 and December 1955). Sunderland beat us 9-1 in December 1908 but that doesn’t count as it was over 100 years ago (Hugh’s Law of Regressive Result Counting, Section 2, Para 3.1).

  Played Newcastle Wins Sunderland Wins Draws
All Premier League 19 9 3 7
PL At St James’ Park 9 4 2 3
All League Games Ever 131 51 40 40

Recent Stats

Newcastle have accumulated just one more point than Sunderland out of the last 6 games, which might suggest its a meeting of teams in a similar run of form. Last weekend we let a 2-0 lead slip to a Wolves side who simply battled harder than we did in the second half and that slip up was on the back of a 5-1 thumping from Spurs, so we need to buck up our ideas if there really is any chance of us getting into Europe.

Sunderland must have been stung by their 4-0 defeat away at the Hawthorns last weekend and that was on the back of a 2-1 home defeat to Arsenal, so they’ll be equally anxious to regain some form.

Sunderland’s away form is won 4, drawn 2, lost 7 and our home form is won 7, drawn 4, lost 2, and of course we have the home advantage in this game. Nevertheless, I think this has all the makings of a very tense derby match.

3 points for us won’t move us up as goal difference would keep Chelsea and Arsenal above us even if they lost their games away to West Brom and away to Liverpool respectively. Of course we don’t really want Liverpool gaining any ground on us either.

Last 6 League Games             Pts
Newcastle W L W W L D 10/18
Sunderland L W W W L L 9/18

Team News


Silvain Marveaux, Steven Taylor and Sammy Ameobi are still on the long-term injury list, and Leon Best is a couple of weeks away from coming back from a knee injury.

Allegedly Cisse suffered a minor groin strain and Ba and Tiote picked up ‘knocks’ last weekend but I reckon all three will be in contention for a starting place on Sunday.

Newcastle (from): Krul, Elliot, Harper, Simpson, R Taylor, Santon, Ferguson, Perch, Coloccini, Williamson, Kadar, Cabaye, Tiote, Guthrie, Obertan, Ben Arfa, Gutierrez, Gosling, Abeid, Lovenkrands, Shola Ameobi, Ba, Cisse.

I reckon we’ll probably go with the same line-up as last week but maybe with Obertan on the right wing instead of Ryan Taylor. I can’t see Pardew making too many changes despite our poor display last weekend. I suspect it’ll be 4-4-2 because, well, it usually is. Having said that, we did line up with as a 4-5-1 when we played Sunderland back in August and Shola was the lone striker. I wonder if Pardew might find a place in the starting line-up for Shola on the back of his 6 goals against the mackems in recent years? Probably not – I think it’s most likely that Cisse and Ba will get the nod as front two.


Phil Bardsley is touch and go for Sunday’s game as he picked up a calf problem during their game against West Brom. Number two keep Keiren Westwood is also doubtful with a wrist injury meaning that Craig Gordon might be on the bench as back-up for Mignolet.

Fraizer Campbell, Nicklas Bendtner and Stephane Sessegnon have all been on international duty and will face fitness assessments by O’Neill to make sure they’re recovered enough to play on Sunday.

Sunderland (from): Mignolet, Bardsley(?), Turner, Richardson, O’Shea, Cattermole, Larsson, Gardner, Colback, McClean, Sessegnon, Westwood(?), Gordon, Bridge, Kilgallon, Kyrgiakos, Meyler, Campbell, Bendtner.

Sunderland tend to look to attack from wide, which is something we should be wary of, and O’Neill is fairly flexible in his choice of formations. He could go for 4-5-1, 4-4-1-1 or even a plain 4-4-2.

Some Random Stats

We’ve conceded more goals than Sunderland – 38 to their 30 – and their tackle success rate is 78% to our 73%, but we’ve completed more passes at 73% to their 70%.

Sunderland have conceded more of their goals from headers 33% than any other Premier League team.

Sunderland get more shots on target (44% to our 43%) but we put more of our on-target shots in the net than them at 16% to their 14%.

Howay The Lads!


NUFCBlog Author: Hugh de Payen I'm a baby-boomer of the punk rock persuasion, currently exiled in Somerset for crimes committed in a previous life where locals keep trying to poison me with something called 'scrumpy'. Hates sprouts, coat-hangers, Cilla Black, ornaments, Steven Seagull movies and 50 Cent (he's not worth 10). Hugh de Payen has written 634 articles on this blog.

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61 Responses

  1. erm stats are wrong not remember 1-2 at st james’ phillips and quin in the rain shearer missing a penalty ring n e bells

  2. Sorry to pile on the agony Hugh, but you made another serious mistake. You spelled ‘mackem’ with a capital M. ;)

  3. hate to say it but after last weeks game i reckon we`re in a slump. i think we`ll lose this one

  4. Hi Chaps,

    Just got back from Sunday 3rd March 2012.

    Have to say… all does not go well for Newcastle.

    0-4 thumping!

    Tally ho !

    Heads up and all that !

  5. Thanks for the tip Dr, I’ll go place my bets ey.

    I figure they’ll score first but we will win 2-1.

  6. i cannot see any 5-1’s in the offing, this time around.
    i can see pardew and o’neill being at bit safety first, on sunday.
    neither will want to loose, on the back of disappointing performances.
    i can see o’neill going with a five man midfield, with sessegnon ploughing the lone furrough.
    defences will try to be on top, but i can see 4 being scored.
    2-2 for me.

  7. i also wouldn’t bet against a couple of stunning freekicks, from larsson and cabaye.

  8. Past games mean nowt and enough with the statistics a’ready!
    And you “only suspect” it will be 4-4-2 ?
    Is there anyone we could fit in at CD other than Williamson or Perch ?
    The other question arises, obviously no one is very enthused with the choices of Raylor or Obertan on the right and we know Pardew demands a defensive capeability there, which leaves out HBA.
    So how bout playing young Ferguson on the left and Jonas on the right, at least it would give us a good attacking winger in Ferguson who has the ability to also defend. And who knows Santon and Ferguson could possibly end up a good combination, both having the ability to play both ways, whereas Jonas and Simpson could also link up well on the right.
    But hey, what do i Know ?

  9. Though he has been quite successful since his arrival at Wearside, never thought M.O’N. was a great tactician, more of an emotional motivator.
    But by playing a five man midfield with Sassegnon plowing the lone furrough, as “Trojan Records” so aptly put it.
    That and the threat of some pacey wingers, could overcome our suspect (read slow) defensive unit.

  10. I perceive this to be a wearside-orientated thread, there is a suspicious lack of optimism and a curious amount of store being put into stats, which as we all very well know have absolutely nothing to do with this game of all games. There will be disappointment on the banks of the Wear this weekend, and the unwashed will be emphatically reminded of the fragility of their recent new-manager invigoration. 3-0 or 4-1 if they catch us on the break late in the game when complacency and HBA come to bear.

  11. Personally, I haven’t got a clue how this will pan out – local derbies are funny affairs, and this one is the Daddy of them all!!

  12. Utd111 – that’s exactly how it is. On paper, they are a mundane crew, and we are well-staffed if not a complete team, but all such things are flung out of the window when it comes to 12 noon sunday. I just hope Tiote n Dreamboat do not see the red mist with Cattermole and co flying in with both feet at every opportunity. If we keep our heads and dont get dragged into a sucker punch move, we will tire them out and get a few. Can’t wait, will be up bright and early have brekkies in toon and take me time going in and savour the flavour.

  13. Errm ! can anyone translate exactly what “front foot football” is ?
    Thats all you get from this guy double-talk and meaningless soundbites.
    Gotta bad feeling about this game, hope i’m wrong.

  14. FRont Foot Football

    on the front foot
    1. get aggressive, take on the challenge
    2. take the initiative
    3. on the attack

    Source: The UTD111-ictionary


  15. chuck says:
    March 2, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    “Errm ! can anyone translate exactly what “front foot football” is ?”

    It’s attacking football Chuck.

  16. UTD111 says:
    March 2, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    “Interesting interview for anyone who didn’t catch it….”

    He thinks he’s Derek Acorah or Big Brother. He reckons he can read all our innermost thoughts and feelings through the medium of John “why aye man” Carver. I found it to be stupefyingly patronising. Strange interview.

  17. Got this down as a 1-1 on the predictor.
    Would love a win but my heart is saying draw.

  18. workyticket says:
    March 3, 2012 at 12:55 am

    He thinks he’s Derek Acorah or Big Brother. He reckons he can read all our innermost thoughts and feelings through the medium of John “why aye man” Carver. I found it to be stupefyingly patronising. Strange interview.

    The West Ham fans reckon his downfall with them was his arrogance coming to the fore – looks like he’s doing it again. Either that, or he pitched the interview at the southern media and having read our innermost thoughts, didn’t think any geordies read the Telegraph!

  19. Krul and colo on new contracts :) :) :) :) :) :) :) beat the mackems and its a perfect weekend…just ba to sign up now

  20. i just turned on the tv put sky sports news on and there was colo with his curly hair in a live press conference.

    what a deal. 4 years for colo 5 years for krul.

    has to be a win this weekend. all we need in simpson and then we can look to the future.

    coooooooooommmmmmmmmmeeeeeeee on the toon

  21. Aye that was a very positive press conference – both players stating openly that they’ve signed because they want to stay at the club.
    So if they’re sold it’ll be Ashley’s greed….

  22. Simpson? now we know where we stand with the defence let’s move on – take a profit on Simpson and invest that cash we have been promised in a top RB.

    any news on the fitness of Wor Dembas?



  23. UTD111 says:
    March 3, 2012 at 7:55 am

    “The West Ham fans reckon his downfall with them was his arrogance coming to the fore – looks like he’s doing it again. Either that, or he pitched the interview at the southern media and having read our innermost thoughts, didn’t think any geordies read the Telegraph!”

    Does he think that we’re all just one block of idiots who all think exactly the same thing, whatever John Carver thinks?

    He blamed his sacking at Wesr Ham on the complacency of the players.

  24. Haha glad Danny Simpson has been hung out to dry….he aint even worth 25k a week and I hope we get rid and replace with someone much better.

    Really happy Collo and Krul are going to stay-fantastic news.

  25. sir jason.

    i watch simpson week in and week out and he very rarely puts a foot wrong.

    he isnt the tallest of football players but he works his socks off.

    yes he can be caught out at times but cant we all.

    simpson statistically is our best defender with 40 tackles won to colos 39 and far better than mica richards of man city with 35, the rest of our defenders are nowhere to be seen

    simpson isnt even in the top 27 when it comes to tackles lost, but colo is 11th with 15 tackles lost.

    simpson is also 18th in the prem as far as key passes go, with 13. who is second at newcastle to ryan taylor who is second overall in the prem with 31 key passes.

    santon on the other hand is nowhere to be seen.

    lets put raylor back in at left back. its worrying that 31 key passes are going a miss. and all the players around ryan in the table are all playing.

    all stats ive stated are based on defenders.

    so in all fairness i think danny is getting a hard time when he is putting in a lot of the work.

    his game has improved 100% since he first came. his passing and crossing ability is now spot on. you dont see many wayward crosses now like he used to when he first arrived.

    he has upped his game and been dedicated to the team, unlike Baye, enrique, bassong and eddga. who all left.

    we should be thank full we have a defender as good as he has been. it is only since raylor and saylor have been missing that the defense has started to crack.

    at the end of the day if the players who have come in are leaving cracks it make life difficult for other players to fill.

    and when people want to find a problem with a person they will no matter how good that person is. and is it any wonder why his performances are lacking? read his twitter page, full of insults. how can a guy work in that environment? how could you concentrate on your job if people were hurling abuse at you week in week out.

    its no good pushing a player out just because he wants a better deal.

    in my opinion there is no better player who knows newcastle, who understands the team and who is dedicated to our cause. for £5 -£10 grand more we could do a lot worse and not get a player with the same dedication.

    how many shop window players do we need before we have someone who stick around long enough.

    name me three players in the last ten years at right back who have stayed around long enough to call themselves a toon player?

    every player at right back for years has been like a open barn door. and even when they havent they have jumped ship.

    we need a player like simpson to stick around otherwise we have no cover and no one to call on when the ego we get in wants champions league football and jumps ship.

    so let us learn from our mistakes and dont take this miracle scouting system for granted. sooner or later cracks will appear and players will dry up so at least let us stick with someone who will give us 100% and who wants to be hear rather than a player who only wants to be here because we are a shop window for bigger, better richer teams.

  26. I for one would be extremely happy to keep Simpson. He’s doing well as a bisque teamer and the opta stats back what I’ve seen at the matches. Not world class but a solid pro who creates no bad headlines and is always fit and committed. Williamson is our weak link. I’m not a great fan of perch but with his speed and recent good performances I’d start him instead. Can’t believe I just said I’d put Perch in the middle against the filth. How weak must our depth and cover be. Still fancy a 4-0 win. Too much class in our team if they perform. Hope cattermole breaks his leg whilst trying to break someone else’s. I know him from nights out in Yarm, he’s a small boy who thinks he’s a hardcase, wannabe thug on the field and off.

  27. cisse is out of tomorrows game so shola will start instead.

    thats a shame.

    i wander if shola has kicked him or something. cant be bad a geordie playing against the makems.

    lets hope he does well.

  28. Boost from the signings, being at home and having a better squad all add up to a 3-1 win if you ask me. Without Cisse or HBA, though, I think we’ll be fairly simple to defend (mark the hell out of Ba and don’t give away FKs) and would be happy with 2-1 and not displeased with a draw.

    UTD-if AP is so interested in getting on the front foot and attacking aggressively, why does he leave out HBA because he doesn’t defend? (Not that Obertan not defending ever bothered AP.)

    Stephen-completely agree with you about Simpson. Everybody says “get rid” but when you ask who’s the upgrade we’d get, all you hear are crickets chirping. People need to look at some of the average players/dross that line up at RB for recent CL teams. Simpson is definitely good enough.


  29. Stephen C says:
    March 3, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    “cisse is out of tomorrows game so shola will start instead.

    thats a shame.

    i wander if shola has kicked him or something.”

    He’s the latest to get a groin strain Stephen. If you remember, he was taken off early in the last game and he was always touch and go for this one.

    There seem to be too many knacked groins at NUFC nowadays, with the exception of Marveaux who had a question mark and a ticking time bomb hanging over his groin anyway, and was always something of a risk.

  30. I don’t think Perch would makes difference over Williamson. He’s got more pace, which helps, but he gives up height. Both present the same fundamental problem: they’re not comfortable with the ball and always try to clear every ball that comes to them in defense. The last game, about four minutes in, a high ball came in to Williamson, who was under no pressure at all. He decided a headed clearance was a better option than taking it down. He knocked it all of 25 yards downfield, right to O’Hara. Typical.

  31. tunyc says:
    March 3, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    “mark the hell out of Ba”

    Possibly tunyc, but a player of his abilty could still drop a shoulder and lose a marker eventually. It can be better with someone like him to dominate and close down the midfield, making sure thay can’t reach Ba, leaving him isolated. ;-)

  32. and apparently shola has a virus

    so tomorrow might not play out to well.

    unless we play HBA upfront like he can. or bring krands in from the cold.

    not that its cold at the training ground now, what with that andy carroll money going on under-soil heating for the stiffs.

  33. Was wondering the same Hugh. Can’t see anything about him not playing. A few days ago there were plenty about him “winning the fitness race” for the game.

  34. thats where i heard it from as well. supermac said he was out. also towards the end of the show they mentioned shola had a virus and then confirmed he definitely had a virus but none of them knew if it would keep him out of the game or not.

    lets hope they are wrong, but you would expect supermac of all people to have contacts close to the club who would know.

  35. Shola having a virus has come from a small article in this mornings journal saying he had a cold midweek nothing more

  36. ok demba i didnt know.

    i only heard the same as you on legends. but maybe this is a game for shola or krands not the dembas. i think as this will only be cisses 3rd game for us maybe it would be better leaving him to later. i think shola will be more effective and potent than cisse.

    although professional i dont think cisse will grasp the importance of this game. unless his translator tell him this is a cup semi final.

    either way i think looking at our stats we need raylor in at left back. 31 key passes from him at left back has been removed. i think he is more effective as left back than any other position.

    as a right footer i would put raylor at left back and santon on the wing, if we are struggling for right wing.

    might be a kick in the teeth for HBA but cant be as bad as obertan has been.

    although i think the makem might strugle with ober one goal kanobe and leave gaps in the middle for tiote and cabaye to exploit.

    but i cant help feel santon might be good on the right. he has good skill. more than usual for a left back. better going forward than enrique but slower going back.

  37. is it me or has it been quiet on here lately?

    not the hive of activity it normally is.

    was it something i said?

  38. Stephen C says: was it something i said?
    no mate,
    but it might have been Worky when he mentioned “a ticking time bomb hanging over Marveaux’s groin” – talk about cold sweats?

  39. Do time-bombs actually tick & are they ‘ticking’ simply by nature of the fact that they are time-bombs?

    It’s a conundrum!

  40. Just watched a cracking Liverpool v Arsenal match on MOTD – notice both teams played 4-2-3-1.

    Liverpool & chelski both lost ! Is there a conspiracy to ensure we qualify for euros?



  41. supermac,

    that suarez ‘pen’ was a travesty, it was poetic justice that it was saved brilliantly, twice.

  42. Stephen C says:
    March 3, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    “is it me or has it been quiet on here lately?”

    “There have been less blogs on here Stephen. Last month, there were less blogs on here than in any other month since the blog started, around half of the usual.

    I’ve had other things to do, other projects to work on, and I’ve just been getting a bit sick of it to be honest.

  43. well have you thought about including a chat room on here?

    at least you can give a constant theme so people can chat.

    i must admit i found there was too many blogs last few weeks. sometime 3 per day.

    one every two or three days will do me. and obviously one the day before a game with an update and one after, with fall out and sub topics.

    but what i was reffering to was the fact that not many people are posting, it seems hours between each post at times. sometimes nearly a whole day before someone replies or comments.

    if you stick a chat room down the side bar people can chat as well as post on the topic. but at least if there is a chat room you wont need to post as many articles.

  44. i don’t suppose you have heard back from hoosier have you? he didn’t send me a reply to that email i sent you both.

    i think i will give him the two seats in row 3 not being a geordie or british it might be a little bit rough packed in row 25 or 26.

    at least if there is any trouble it will be caught sooner rather than later.

    and i still have a spare ticket if you know anyone.
    although i will ask around tomorrow there is a good chance ill still have one spare.(arsenal game)

  45. Stephen, no, I haven’t, bagsy row three! He’ll be alright, he’ll probably love it. ;-) I haven’t been to a properly rough game for ages, and never at Ashburton Grove – it isn’t exactly the Den!

    I don’t just want to post regurgitated shite, I like to investigate stuff and write more thoughtful pieces and that takes far longer.

    Chatrooms can end up being a nightmare and need to be moderated. There’ll be unwashed (and others) on causing trouble and all sorts, and that isn’t what this blog is about. Sometimes I’ve had enough trouble with comments on here as it is. There have been many things I’ve wanted to do with this blog for ages but I never get the time to do them. If I did I’d be writing even less stuff.

  46. well worky on my blogs linked to my site i have a website. you can set them log in moderation.

    you can set it to use facebook log in.

    so that way the responsibility is on the person logging in not you.

    but i wouldnt recommend anon log in, thats just asking for trouble.

    any way worky im off to bed. long day tomorrow. and hopefully a good one

  47. Worky

    If ever you did fancy a forum attached to the Blog – don’t forget you’ve got an experienced myBB admin here!!!

    Well folks I’m just getting ready to go down to Newcastle – as a great mate of mine has managed to weadle me a ticket!!

    Not that I’m showing off or anything LOL! It’s pissing doon here!!!

  48. So that’s where the AC money has gone –
    Star says “NEWCASTLE have at last splashed £31m cash from the sale of Andy Carroll – to tie up Fabricio Coloccini and Tim Krul on new long-term deals.
    Centre-back Coloccini, 30, has signed a new four-year contract worth an estimated £16m.
    And Krul, 23, has penned a fresh five-year deal amounting to around £15m”.

    It’s only money!

  49. worky says “I’ve just been getting a bit sick of it to be honest”
    – sorry to hear that mate, you’ve got a great blog here. Is it us lot? I have detected a growing Ashley frustration – we all feel that way, but I think many of us are in what the shrinks call “denial” – we gloss over it cos we’re doing so well (esp if we have a good win today).
    My frustration lies with Pardew cos he’s the professional and should know better, but in my guts I think there’s nowt we can do about any useless rich owner so I try to ignore him.



  50. Supermac says:
    March 4, 2012 at 10:53 am

    “worky says “I’ve just been getting a bit sick of it to be honest”
    – sorry to hear that mate, you’ve got a great blog here. Is it us lot?”

    No, I just need some time to work on other aspects of the blog, but I end up having to write too many and as I wrote, I’m busy with other things too. I could do with a decent contributor who knows how to write.