Double disappointment on Roker Report last week as not only did we crash out the FA Cup, but we didn't win you any money. A new week, a clean slate though, and over to Gavin Callaghan of BetFred to tell us the best bets to be had this weekend...
I try not to bore people with footballing cliches but in this instance I'll make an exception; the Wear-Tyne derby is far more then a football match. The post-mortem into what exactly went so horribly wrong on Tyneside on October 31st is still producing inconclusive results and continues to divide Wearside. Was Bruce naive in placing his trust in is youngsters? Why didn't Welbeck square the ball to Bent in the 3rd minute? How did we go from the league's second best defence to Sunday league defending? One thing is for certain; on Sunday, Sunderland will be united again.
With the Black Cats currently sitting in the Europa League spot, and deservedly so, it irritates me when I talk to football fans all over the country and tell them I am a Sunderland fan. "That result against Newcastle must of hurt," is how they follow my confession of loyalty to the Wearsiders. Not, "you lot are playing well," or "what you did to Chelsea was unbelievable." That is why the 5-1 defeat hurt so much wasn't it? After years of spending, rejuvenating the club, ridding ourselves of the losing mentality, we were back, in front of the nation, at our bitter rivals, totally embarrassed and playing with the tag of 'whipping boys' once more.
Since then we have been relentless in putting the wrongs, right. Anyone who dares doubt Bruce's credentials and passion for the Red and White stripes need only look at his first press conference following the humiliation, "It's a club that has lost all credibility and respect...what they did at the final whistle of the Derby was a joke, an absolute joke. It's 75 days until that lot come here, we'll be ready, that's for sure."
Two years ago Paul Merson made the mistake of suggesting Sunderland v Newcastle didn't count as a derby. What he forgot to do that day when he opened his mouth was think about what he was saying. Not for the first time. Merson, to his credit wrote on the Monday following the game , apologising for his remarks after seeing the joy on the faces of men, young and old, tears falling down their cheeks as Kieran Richardson's "goal from the heavens ended the drought." Why then Sky sports are making an equally big mistake in turning their backs on the North Eats fans and subscribers by not showing one of the biggest derby games in football, is nothing shy of a total disgrace.
Sunderland right backs have a tradition for scoring goals in this fixture, so I am tempted to once again tip Bardsley or Onouha to bag a goal. Titus Bramble could also net against his former team,/ However, in our time of greatest need, I think the burden, the responsibility and ultimately the praise, will fall at the feet of our recent hero, Darren Bent. Bent has had a tough time coping with life, you could argue, in the shadow of Asamoah Gyan and Danny Wellbeck, but come Sunday, he knows he can write himself into SAFC folklore with a goal and victory against the Mags.
I fancy it to be close, but 1-0 to Sunderland with Bent getting the goal at 28/1 - as it has been so often, is my derby day tip. Don't forget to sign up with Fred at www.betfred.com where he will give you a £50 free bet. And you can also have a go at football's best bet; Goals Galore.
All that is left to say then is enjoy what I hope is a special day and remember what the editors and producers at Sky have forgot, it's the most fiercely contested rivalry in all of the land, where blood is at constant boiling point. For Sunderland fans, it is the fixture that fans look for first when the lists are drawn up in July, and for Newcastle, it is the one all the players want to win for their fans. Bragging rights are well and truly up for grabs this weekend, it's red and white against black and white, Sunderland against Newcastle and I for one, cannot wait.
Callaghans Best Bet: Darren Bent Scores First & SAFC win 1-0 at 28/1
Roker Report's Best Bet: Henderson Scores First & SAFC win 2-1 at 66/1
And of course, if you're not following Gavin on Twitter, you really should be, he's a top bloke - @gavin_callaghan