The Stadium of Light plays host to another Tyne-Wear Derby this weekend, with the already-raised stakes of bragging rights amplified by Sunderland’s status near the bottom of the Premier League table and Newcastle’s recent struggles in the rivalry.
The hosts enter the match just a point ahead of Burnley in the race to avoid relegation, and have just a pair of points from their last six matches.
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Newcastle hasn’t been much better, watching another season spiral despite a 10-point cushion on the drop zone. They are winless in their last six Tyne-Wear derbies, and that includes a run of four-straight losses by scores of 1-0, 3-0, 2-1 and 3-0.
Sunderland has closed the gap in this bitter rivalry to within five matches, as Newcastle’s all-time edge is 53W-49D-48L.
The managers for both clubs are looking for a trio of points that would be big in several ways.
Here’s Advocaat, from safc.com:
“It is a new derby for me but I know that for everyone here it is a very important game,” explained Advocaat. “This is a special one but for us every game at the moment is very important.
“The most important thing is what we do because Newcastle United have some very good individuals, so straight from the beginning we want to show them what we want.”
He continued: “We want to be sharp in the duels and if we get the ball we have enough good players in the team to do something.”
As for Newcastle caretaker boss John Carver, he’s shaking things up in the hopes of reversing their derby woes.
United had a training session today at St James’ Park to avoid any prying eyes at the club’s Benton base. And Sunday will see a similar change in the routine, according to Carver.
He said: “We will have a prematch meal at St James’ Park. I’m doing a few different things that I won’t touch on.”
The Northeast could look a lot different next year in the Premier League. Sunderland could go down, while Middlesbrough slid into first place in the Championship on Friday to enliven the chances of three Northeast teams in the PL next season.