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Sunderland Fixture hints from PL dates & Ex-Black Cat pays tribute to Newcastle’s Cheick Tiote

The Premier League fixtures were released this morning and we can draw a few conclusions based on the schedule our neighbours have been presented with.

Sunderland v Newcastle United - Premier League Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

Tyne & Wear Fixture hints

You'll be subject to a few headlines elsewhere today with "where's Sunderland?" as the Premier League fixtures are released.

Magpie supporters rejoicing as their first thought on seeing who they're facing in the Premier League is to think about Sunderland. How quaint.

But we can probably draw a few conclusions from Newcastle's fixture list as to some of the key dates for our own as Sunderland prepare for life in the Championship.

Sunderland v Middlesbrough - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

With the Mags at home on the Premier League opening day, we can assume the new-look Sunderland line-up will kick off the second game of the season away from the Stadium of Light as the Championship begins a week earlier. A home game to start with for us then?

But Newcastle face Manchester City on Boxing Day so it'll probably be another festive roadtrip for the Mackems this year - we now haven't had a home game on December 26th since 2014.

Easter Sunday next year lands on April 1st and Huddersfield Town are the visitors to Tyneside the day before, so it'll be an away game for us on Easter Saturday.

And with the Championship season finishing on 5th May 2018, Newcastle are away that day at Watford so we can safely assume an end of season finale on Wearside awaits. Let's hope it's a promotion party.

Stéphane Sessègnon pays tribute to Cheick

Cheick Tioté's colleagues, family and fans gathered yesterday for a memorial service for the ex-Newcastle star in China yesterday.

The 30-year-old collapsed in training with Beijing Enterprises last week and sadly passed away in hospital. Before moving to China, had been at Newcastle for seven years, making more than 150 appearances.

Tioté played nine times against Sunderland and his passing has been felt hard in Newcastle where the Ivory Coast international had been a popular figure.

During his time on Tyneside, Tioté played against Stéphane Sessègnon in four north east derbies. Indeed the Sunderland man was sent off for a challenge on his Newcastle opponent in 2012.

Newcastle United v Sunderland - Premier League
Sessègnon sent off for a foul on Tioté in 2012
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

And the former Sunderland midfielder paid his own small tribute to the man he describes as a friend.

Scoring the only goal of the game between Benin and Gambia on Sunday, Sessègnon unveiled a shirt under his kit saluting the memory of the former Newcastle player with the inscription "in memory of Cheik Tioté. Rest in peace".

Sessègnon's shirt bearing the image of Tioté

After the game, Sessègnon explained his decision:

Tioté is a friend, I would even say a brother. We live this moment a little in pain. Losing a friend in these conditions, it is very painful. Knowing him, I had a thought for him tonight.

Tioté's funeral takes place this Friday in a private ceremony in his home country of Côte d'Ivoire.

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