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Newcastle vs Sunderland – Match Preview

Newcastle defender Chancel Mbemba is back in training and could feature but captain Fabricio Coloccini remains very doubtful with a calf injury.

Striker Papiss Cisse might be involved for the first time since December after overcoming a groin problem.

Sunderland have a near full-strength squad, with Jeremain Lens and Lee Cattermole back from injury.

Jermain Defoe has returned to training after suffering a minor calf strain and will be available.

Editor’s Note: As Footballing cliche’s go then this is the obvious ‘6 pointer’ with what is at stake you could even go as far as calling it a ‘9 pointer’ – not only is it the storied rivalry of a Tyne-Wear Derby but it also will have huge ramifications as to who will possibly beat the drop at the end of the season.

Add into the mix the fact that it’s Rafa Benitez’s first game in charge of the Toon Army and you have the makings for quite the game. Can Benitez be the man to break the jink that Newcastle seem to have in this game as of late, if he does then they’ll probably be making a statue of him on Tyneside on Monday Morning.

Benitez who signed a 3 year contract but does have the option to walk away at the end of the season, took charge of his team for the first time on Monday as they faced League leaders Leicester. Although they were beaten 1-0 they looked more of an improved unit than the one that played under Steve McClaren and Benitez will certainly have cause for optimism.

The game against Leicester was almost a free shot for Newcastle they weren’t expected to get anything from that game so anything they could take from it would have been a huge bonus but now the real work starts and that is getting a win over the most hated local rivals.

The fact that Norwich won yesterday will do neither side any favours and Alex Neil will be hoping that the two sides cancel each other out with a draw. But you get the feeling that both Managers know this is a must win game and I don’t think playing for a share of the points will be on the agenda.

That win for Norwich has seen Sunderland drop down to 18th for 24 hours at least but Sam Allardyce knows that a win at St James Park will see them climb above Norwich and also make Newcastle’s plight a lot lot worse

Last time out they almost came away from The St Mary’s with all 3 points but an injury time goal from Virgil Van Dijk broke Sunderland hearts and they had to make do with just the 1. How costly will those dropped points be come the end of the season.

Sunderland haven’t lost in this fixture since August 2011 a run of 8 derbies and an astonishing 6 wins on the trot. Sam Allardyce certainly has no plans of that run stopping Today but this one must surely be the most important one in recent memory

With Newcastle eager to impress in front of new Manager Rafa Benitez in his first Tyne-Wear Derby I have a feeling that The Magpies could snatch this one. There is too much riding on this one to be a nervy encounter, tense if you are supporter of one these teams but great fun for the neutral. I reckon a Home win and Newcastle finally putting an end to the run of Derby Defeats.



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