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Preview: Wearsiders On Their Way To War Across The Tyne

Following on from last week's defeat at Chelsea, Paolo Di Canio could not have wished for a more tantalising second game at the Sunderland helm - a relegation dogfight with arch rivals Newcastle United, and the chance to put an early foot in the Wearside history books.

Michael Regan

Sunderland Team News

New boss Di Canio was buoyed on Thursday with the news that Carlos Cuellar and Danny Graham would likely be fit for selection at the weekend. While it is fairly impossible to discern the Italian's starting XI - no one really knows whom he favours just yet - it is undoubtable that extra numbers will help the Black Cat cause.

Lee Cattermole, Wes Brown and Steven Fletcher, of course, remain long term injuries. Titus Bramble and David Vaughan are doubts, while Craig Gardner is suspended. As a result, it wouldn't be too much of a surprise to see Sunderland's only change being that of Jack Colback filling the void left by Gardner.

Newcastle United Team News

Newcastle - as if we haven't heard it plenty enough this season - have some injury troubles of their own. Hatem Ben Arfa was fit only for the bench against Benfica, while Steven Taylor, Cheik Tiote and Mathieu Debuchy are all doubts.

That said, it would be of little surprise to see a few of them pass late fitness tests - one of Pardew's favoured pre-match tactics seems to be overstate how injured some players are, hoping to use the element of surprise come matchday.

David Santon and Fabricio Coloccini are unlikely to figure.

Predicted Lineups

Sunderland: Mignolet; Bardsley, O'Shea, Kilgallon, Rose; Johnson, N'Diaye, Colback, Larsson; Sessegnon, Wickham

Newcastle United: Krul; Simpson, Yanga-Mbiwa, S. Taylor, Haidara; Tiote, Cabaye; Marveaux, Gutierrez, Sissoko; Cisse

Key Matchup: Danny Rose Vs Moussa Sissoko

Just as it's difficult to pick the teams, it's also difficult to pick where exactly people may play - in an attacking sense, Newcastle have a fairly interchangeable set of players. However, assuming Moussa Sissoko will line up on the right side, his tussle with Danny Rose has the makings of a classic.

Rose has arguably been Sunderland's standout outfield player this season (depressing when we consider he's not even permanently at the club), while Sissoko has taken Tyneside by storm since arriving in January. Rose, for his small stature, is strong, but he will be put to his physical limits against the Frenchman. Sissoko runs with all the force of a runaway train, combining excellent footwork with brute strength. As proven against Benfica, however, the Newcastle man can be lax defensively - if Rose is able to attack him, Sunderland could increase their offensive options.

Recent Form: LWLLW

Loss: Swansea City 1-0 Newcastle United (Moore 85)

Win: Newcastle United 2-1 Stoke City (Cisse 64, 90+2, Cabaye 72; Walters 67 (pen))

Loss: Wigan Athletic 2-1 Newcastle United (Beausejour 18, Kone 90; Santon 72)

Loss: Manchester City 4-0 Newcastle United (Tevez 41, Silva 45+2, Kompany 56, Perch 69 (og))

Win: Newcastle United 1-0 Fulham (Cisse 90+4)

Last Time Around: Newcastle United 1-1 Sunderland, 04/03/12

Tempestuous didn't quite cover it. With 56,000 rotund black and whites barely having taken their seats at the Sports Direct Arena, Lee Cattermole plundered into Cheik Tiote after just 40 seconds, causing outrage in the Geordie Nation. With the Sunderland man an unsurprising first entrant in the referee's notebook - "quelle horreur" moaned the Francophilian terraces - the stage was set for feisty tussle.

Numerous flashpoints occurred throughout - interspersed with a Nicklas Bendtner penalty - before Tiote was sent crashing to the ground by a thunderous Stephane Sessegnon right hook. Or something like that. Anyway, after the Cartoon Army's resident hardman had embarrassed himself in front of the nation (the English one this time), the men in the humbug shirts laid siege to Simon Mignolet's goal. The Belgian stopper kept out a Demba Ba penalty, but then Shola Ameobi (who else?) popped up at the back post and pissed us all off. Oh, and then Cattermole got him sent off. Despite the fact the game had already ended.

A quiet one, really.

The Ref: Howard Webb

Mr Webb has previous in this fixture - and Sunderland fans greeted his appointment for this Sunday with a sense of angst. Overseeing the 1-1 draw between the sides at 2009, it was Webb who caved to home pressure and awarded Steven Taylor an astonishingly dubious penalty after Steed Malbranque had the temerity to breathe heavily on him.

This season, he has refereed the Magpies three times and the Black Cats. He has been a good omen so far for Sunderland, taking charge of two 1-0 victories: at home to Wigan and away at Southampton. Meanwhile, for Newcastle it's been more of a mixed bag. Webb was present for their 0-3 home loss to Manchester United, as well as the 1-2 defeat at Stoke City, but was also in charge for the memorable 3-2 victory over Chelsea in February.

What The Managers Said

Paolo Di Canio:

It's the time to renew the moment. It's the time to give satisfaction. We have to feel confident we have the quality and team to beat them.

The derby is the derby, it obviously counts for three points, not six, but it counts in terms of dignity, honour and pride, especially away from home.

It will be fantastic to give them [the fans] satisfaction to celebrate, and if we do this we get the three points.

The most important thing is to see the fans waving red and white scarves and celebrating in their homes, it will be a day to remember for many because the last time we won away was in 2000 with Hutchison and Quinn, that's too far.

Alan Pardew:

I think it's a disadvantage for us. To play Thursday night, and their management here to watch us go through a really tough game, is what I would want as an opposing manager.

I think Sunderland will be slight favourites for the game.

Roker Report Predicts

It's the derby, so all form goes out of the window - allegedly. That is, of course, all form apart from derby form: Sunderland have won just one of the last 16 encounters. It is a shocking record, and one that few expect to really change.

Yet, Paolo Di Canio has imbued a flat club with a sense of renewed hope. Newcastle, for all some may wax lyrical about their January dealings, have been inconsistent at best in recent months. Sunderland have been far worse, granted, but with a new manager there is a feeling that they can lift themselves for the final seven ga...ah who are we kidding man, we'll get beat again, or Shola will score another late sodding equaliser.

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