Like it or loathe it, the first Wear-Tyne derby will shortly be upon us. Some can’t bare to watch, while others count down the days the moment fixtures are realised. A game which regularly divides the region in half is looking increasingly difficult to call down the middle.
Had the clash taken place last weekend, Sunderland would have had better odds on recording an unprecedented sixth successive over United. However, with Steve McClaren securing his first victory in charge of the Magpies in spectacular attacking fashion over Norwich, the boys in black and white have been injected with a fresh dose of optimism.
Although both teams have had very little to write home about this season, all signs point to one of the most closely contested, and most significant, clash in years.
The fixture alone is enough to have fans on both sides biting their nails, add that to the following sub plots and we could be in for quite the derby.
Can Mitrovic keep his temper?
Since the moment he made his debut on the opening day of the season, Aleksandar Mitrovic has won fans over with his determination. However, it’s that same fiery playing style that has seen him pick up two yellow cards and one red over seven appearances. Given that the fixture isn’t exactly the calmest of affairs, much has been made of how the young Serb will fair in his first derby. If, like he has shown recently, he can keep the “devil inside him” under control and play with a calm head tomorrow, then it is likely he could add to his two goals in two games. His temperament and goalscoring form (4 goals, 2 bookings, 1 sending off in 7 games for Anderlecht against rivals Club Bruges) will no doubt have been picked up on by those on Wearside. Lets hope Mitrovic hammers in the winner rather than Cattermole’s face.
The Importance of Steve Black
One man who will have been helping the 21-year-old channel his passion is Steve Black. Once the full time whistle sealed Newcastle’s first win of the season last weekend, the coaching assistant was seen embracing the players on the turf in front of a relieved and vibrant crowd at St James’. The pressures of securing a first win of the season have been lifted, however Black and the rest of the coaching staff will have to prepare the squad better mentally than they have in the last three years.
In previous derbies, Newcastle have failed to turn up to the races; a fact which annoys fans arguably more than the final result. Without a derby winner in the squad, Black will have to ensure that the losing mentality is lost come noon.
Will Colo and co. keep Defoe at bay?
News that Tyneside’s least favourite Italian Fabio Borini is a major doubt for tomorrow will be music to McClaren’s ears. However, that does leave the door open for Jermain Defoe to start and add to his wonder strike back in February, and improve his worryingly impressive seven goal tally against Newcastle. One clean sheet and 55 shots conceded in just nine games will make great reading for a striker of Defoe’s quality. If McClaren is to build upon the momentum gained from last week, he’ll have to plug the defensive wholes which allowed Norwich in on numerous occasions.
Janmaat – Colocinni – Mbemba – Dummet
Colback – Anita
Sissoko – Wijnaldum – Perez
With both teams conceding a glut over the first nine games of the seasons, many will have this one down as a goal fest. However, we believe it’ll be a lot closer than it has been recently. Neither can afford yet another defeat so early on in the league, especially with Villa losing to Swansea.
Praise of scoring six last week comes with the footnote of conceding their lead twice, easily, on the counter, with Norwich hitting the woodwork twice and the match in the balance before the final half an hour. If given the same opportunities the Canaries were gifted, you’d imagine Sunderland won’t let the visitors back in so easily.
Prediction: 1 – 1