It's weird writing the preview for the game last in the week. It's pretty much all said and done, and especially so here on Roker Report where you've been treated to some top notch stuff.
However, one thing we've sort of neglected is what's actually happening on the day. What's happening, who's playing, and all that sort of good stuff. Also making our predictions and some final thoughts.
It's the Derby. I'm at a solid 8/10 on the Excite-O-Nerve-O-Meter... let's get this on...
Sunderland Team News
As far as SAFC team news for Saturday goes, it would appear to be a case of 'as you were' as Steve Bruce told press this week that changes to the team which played against Liverpool will be gradual, and he's not in any rush.
Craig Gordon is stepping up his return from injury, but won't be troubling Simon Mignolet any time soon, and the Belgian will once again start in goal.
Across the defence, we expect that will be the same again too, consisting of Phil Bardsley, Wes Brown, Anton Ferdinand and Kieran Richardson.
There have been reports that John O'Shea is 50-50 for the game, however even if he was that, it looks unlikely he'd come into such a big game when only part fit. O'Shea has also only played 30 minutes of football in the last six weeks whilst he's recovering. Swansea next week might be a better bet for him. I'd be equally surprised to see Titus Bramble or Michael Turner recalled when Anton did so well at Liverpool.
Across midfield, whilst Craig Gardner and David Vaughan might feel hard done to, Jack Colback was possibly our best player outside of Wes Brown last weekend, and I think he has to start alongside Lee Cattermole. I don't the situation will over-raw young Jack. Remember, he came on as a sub in the last meeting at the Stadium Of Light, and well, he's been excellent.
On the wings, a much improved Ahmed Elmohamady will look to keep things going, and on the left, Sebastien Larsson will be charged with causing havoc for Danny SImpson.
Up front, I think Stephane Sessegnon will be pushed further forward to support Asamoah Gyan in more of a 4-4-2 formation, with the ability to drop off if needed, not doing things the other way round.
Newcastle Team News
From everything I've read and heard, its apparently quite difficult to second guess just what goes on in the mind of Alan Pardew, but we're going to do our best to guess based on what we've heard and read over the last week.
Tim Krul will continue to keep goal, while being backed up by new signing Rob Elliot. Steve Harper, having waited so long behind Shay Given, now appears to be frozen out again.
Across the defence, we're looking at Danny Simpson starting at right back. We know a fair bit about Simpson, and I think Seb Larsson will give him more problems than he'll give us. On the left hand side of defence we've no idea who will play. It looks like Ryan Taylor is the most likely, whilst the club are continually linked with Erik Pieters and Wayne Bridge as Jose Enrique's replacement. Regardless of who it is, I think Elmo's direct style will cause problems for any of them. Collocini and Steven Taylor will try to stop Gyan and Sess.
In midfield it looks like changes are afoot too. Cheik Tiote will partner new boy Yohann Cabaye in the middle, providing a platform for a changed midfield and attack. We're expecting a combination of Joey Barton, Gabriel Obertan and Jonas to be in support of our arch nemesis Shola Ameobi.
The key to victory will be hoping Shola joins Andy Carroll in Wes Brown's back pocket, whilst also we keep Joey Barton quiet. Literally. Just don't react as he'll be wanting us to.
Mignolet; Bardsley, Brown, Ferdinand, Richardson; Elmohamady, Cattermole, Larsson, Colback; Sessegnon, Gyan
This weeks classic encounter has already been covered! How sneaky of us? Yes, Roker Relives returned for one week, and the boy Michael Graham gave the 1990 Play Off Semi-Final Second Leg a going over. Relive the magic by CLICKING HERE
Get Rich Quick
Last week in this section, we may have got the scorers wrong but we got the score correct. Should I chalk that up as a win? Well it's my blog, so yes I will.
The derby throws up some unlikely derby heroes, and with that in mind I'm going for an outsider on Wes Brown opening the scoring at 40/1 (BetFred). Somewhat sadly, if you want to make some guaranteed money then Shola Ameobi to score at anytime is 9/4 (BetFred)
Song For Whoever
Well this week we had a ruck of entries, but frankly none of you picked anything which matched my own high standards. So courtesy of @SimoWalsh, the sexiest man on Twitter, here's The Smiths with "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want"...
Top stuff I think you'll agree... "Good times for a change, see the luck I've had can make a good man turn bad..."
Finally after 850 or so words of waffling, the bit where I have to put my balls on the line, and here it is... I'm going for a 3-2 victory for the good guys. I can't see us keeping a clean sheet as much as I'd like it. I also don't want them winning. It's also been 2-1 far too often. Three goals for us from Sessegnon, Brown & Gyan whilst Ameobi gets his annual brace for them lot.