It's derby time again, and with Sunderland taking a point advantage into the game I feel a defeat would damage Newcastle much more than it would Sunderland. A defeat - although relatively harmful - would not harm us massively, and it would take a thrashing to surrender our goal difference.
The pressure is all on Newcastle. One has to wonder if it's even possible for Rafa Benitez to instill calm and organisation in a Newcastle defence that has taken every opportunity to buckle under the strain whenever we've recently played our Tyneside neighbours.
Law of averages tells us we're due a loss, but it doesn't have to be that way. I'd take a draw but a win is more than achievable.
The Last Six Derby Games
Goals: Sunderland 13 Newcastle 1
Shots: Sunderland 73 Newcastle 105
Shots on Target: Sunderland 26 Newcastle 39
Corners: Sunderland 27 Newcastle 39
Fouls: Sunderland 74 Newcastle 89
Yellow Cards: Sunderland 14 Newcastle 13
Red Cards: Sunderland 0 Newcastle 1
This will be the 156th meeting between the teams - both teams have won 53 times.
George Holley is Sunderland's top scorer in the fixture, with 15 goals, while Newcastle's Jackie Milburn is their top marksman, with 11.
The aggregate derby score in the Premier League currently stands at Sunderland 33-35 Newcastle.
Sunderland have scored 231 goals against Newcastle compared to the 223 we've conceded.
There have been five red cards in the last ten derbies, but just one in the last 6 - which was eventually overturned.
If Sunderland avoid a loss it will stretch their unbeaten run against the Mags to nine games - a win would make it seven victories in a row.
Rafa Benitez will face Sunderland in his second game in charge. Sam Allardyce, Paolo Di Canio, Gus Poyet and Dick Advocaat all picked up derby wins in their second game in charge of Sunderland.
If Sunderland win, they'll complete their third consecutive league double over Newcastle. It would be their eighth overall. Newcastle have completed nine league doubles over the Black Cats.
Ruud Gullit in August 1999:
It's just another game.
A comment that spelled the beginning of the end for the Dutchman at Newcastle. With Alan Shearer and Duncan Ferguson starting the game from the bench, goals from Kevin Phillips and Niall Quinn ensured that Sunderland left Tyneside with all three points.
Peter Reid in August 1999:
When we got Newcastle's team news I didn't need to give a team talk. He'd left their two best players on the bench and we were delighted. It did wonders for the lads.
When an opposition striker was lining up to take a penalty I would always have a little chirp at them. I did it to Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and I'm pretty sure I laid a £50 bet with Shearer that he wouldn't score in the Tyne-Wear derby when Newcastle won a penalty at St James' Park in 2000.
He ignored it, of course, and I'm not sure that was the reason why he missed but I'm going to take a bit of the credit for it because it was one of my best moments in red and white!
Roy Keane in 2008:
It's a great game for us. As a player, this is the type of game you want to be in - a sell-out derby at home. It's why you come into football and if you're not looking forward to it, you should retire.
Steven Taylor in 2012, talking about how many Sunderland players would get into their side:
Not even one player. That is the quality we possess. We say it all the time.
Even last year the gaffer said it, he has our team above Sunderland.
Alan Pardew in 2013:
I genuinely think that we have a squad, when fully fit, which is stronger than theirs.
He went on to lose the next four derbies.
I absolutely hate doing this, and deplore it even more so when it comes to trying to second guess what might happen in a derby game.
Newcastle have a new manager, and are decent at home. Their fans will be right behind them at the start, but if things aren't going their way we've seen in recent years that the crowd get on their case.
For me, this will be won and lost in the midfield. We have to start Lee Cattermole, and ensure we pick up all the second balls. As good as the likes of Wijnaldum and Sissoko can be, they aren't the types that will put their head in where it hurts.
I really want to say we'll win this one but it honestly wouldn't shock me if we have a fairly high-scoring draw.