Sunderland Team News
Gus Poyet has some decisions to make ahead of this weekend's game against Newcastle United, with the Uruguayan sweating on the fitness of some key personnel.
Phil Bardsley appeared to pick up a knock against Stoke and will face a race for fitness in order to play. Lee Cattermole also missed the mid-week fixture entirely and will need to prove his fitness to retake his spot in midfield.
It's likely that Cattermole (if he's still here) will get the nod though, as will Bardsley. We expect Seb Larsson to be the unlucky man in midfield dropped for Cattermole (see previous caveat). New signing Liam Bridcutt is also an option in the middle.
New signing Nacho Scocco will likely have to make do with a spot on the bench as it seems unlikely Poyet will through him straight into a high-pressure game.
Newcastle United Team News
Following a mid-week draw away at Norwich, Alan Pardew has some changes to consider for tomorrows derby match.
First of all in attack, where Loic Remy will serve a suspension having been shown a straight red card for violent conduct. Of course you know Pardew will want to use Shola Ameobi and he'll get the nod.
Ameobi senior could lineup alongside his brother in attach, or alternatively new signing Luuk De Jong from the Bundesliga.
Cheick Tiote and Vurnon Anita will anchor the midfield in the absence of the recently departed Yohan Cabaye, while the defence lines up in a familiar manner with Debuchy, Williamson and Santon all taking their places alongside the North East's premier philatelist.
Sunderland: Mannone, Bardsley, O'Shea, Brown, Alonso, Cattermole, Ki, Colback, Johnson, Borini, Altidore
Newcastle United: Krul, Debuchy, Williamson, Taylor, Santon, Tiote, Sissoko, Anita, Ben Arfa, Gouffran, Ameobi
Key Matchup: Ki Sung-Yeung Vs Cheick Tiote
I happen to think that it's right up Alan Pardew's street to dispatch Tiote onto Ki Sung-Yeung to take him out of the game. Not in an injury sense, even with it being a likely outcome, more just to follow him around and shut him down as soon as possible.
Pardew will no doubt have noticed against Southampton at home recently that the visitors did so to great effect and nullified our attacking intent for a solid hour or so.
Tiote's likely to do a much better job of it too than Jack Cork, who himself did a pretty good job.
Ki will have to be effective with the ball. Even more so than usual to take control of the game in a hostile environment.
Recent Form: LLLLWD
Loss: Newcastle United 0-1 Arsenal (Giroud 65)
Loss: West Browmich Albion 1-0 Newcastle United (Berahino 87pen)
Loss: Newcastle United 1-2 Cardiff City (Cisse 61, Noone 73, Campbell 80)
Loss: Newcastle United 0-2 Manchester City (Dzeko 8, Negredo 90)
Win: West Ham United 1-3 Newcastle United (Cabaye 16, 90, Remy 33, Cole 45)
Draw: Norwich City 0-0 Newcastle United
Last Time Around: Newcastle United 0-3 Sunderland, 14/04/14
Do I really, really need to bother going over what happened last time? I'm sure you're all quite aware of this famous scoreline and fixture.
It was of course the Dirty Knees game. A game which will live long and fondly in the memory thanks to a series of strikes, each more stunning than the previous from Sessegnon, Johnson and Vaughan.
The Ref: Phil Dowd
It's fair to say that Phil Dowd hasn't been a friend of Sunderland over the years.
Having officiated 32 Sunderland fixtures, we've won only 5 of those. He's also shown us 66 yellow cards and 3 red cards, with 5 penalties given against us. By contrast he's only shown 44 yellow cards to the opposition, no red cards and given only 2 penalties in our favour.
Dowd was also in charge earlier this season of our 3-4 home defeat to Chelsea.
What The Managers Said
If we can do well against Newcastle now it will make it easier against Hull.
It is all about keeping going the good run we've had.
The players know that, and they've bought into that, and you can see how hard they are working to stay in games and get something from them.
The more points we pick up regularly, the better our confidence gets.
The thing you do know about this fixture is it really is immaterial how you play. It's really all about the result.
They're playing well, and you have to take your hat off to him and say he's done a great job so far in there. To get to a cup final and still be in the FA Cup, and get out of the relegation zone from where the were, was a great achievement for Gus and his staff.
Roker Report Predicts
A draw. I think the home side will be thirsty for revenge having been on the receiving end of yet another 2-1 defeat earlier in the season.
That said, I don't think we're going to roll over and give them the satisfaction, all in all resulting in a 1-1 draw. The home side taking the lead before a dramatic late equaliser from Sunderland.