Sunderland perspective: Martyn McFadden, A Love Supreme.
Let’s be honest, this international break will have done no-one any favours, especially with the England match being pushed back a day. We’ll be hoping that Adam Johnson has finally regained full fitness and is raring to go when it really matters. The potential return of Phil Bardsley to right-back may see Craig Gardner pushed out of the team; however he is also a serious candidate in the centre of the park given Cattermole’s suspension.
The season so far has been a strange one. We’ve primarily settled for draws, we’ve only lost one game, but then again we’ve only won one. It is nice to be unbeaten halfway through October, but you don’t qualify for Europe on draws alone.
I’m not going to lie; our recent history against Newcastle is grim. We haven’t beaten them since 2008, and that was the first win since 2000. They’re well and truly our bogey team. We’ve been a lot better under Martin O’Neill, however, and were unlucky not to beat them last season, so a win is a real possibility. Newcastle looked poor at defending set pieces last time out against Man United, and with Larsson’s famed delivery we could look to exploit that.
Steven Fletcher to score at 2.8. If we’re going to score, it’s going to be Fletcher. I don’t think he’s had many shots this season that haven’t gone in!
Sunderland to score in both halves at 4.1. This may not be a goal fest, but I these are appealing odds for us to notch either side of the interval.
Both teams to score at 1.83. Our defence has been decent so far, but derby matches don't often follow the form book.
Score prediction: Sunderland 2-1 Newcastle (10.5)
Newcastle perspective: Mark Jensen, The Mag.
There are some big decisions for Alan Pardew to make, but he could at last have his undisputed first eleven all available. The international break has allowed the likes of Krul, Steven Taylor and Coloccini the time to return to training and if they are anywhere near fit I’m sure he’ll want all of his elite players on the pitch.
We haven’t put together any consistent form and have even struggled to put together a decent ninety-minute performance. We've needed great individual displays from Ben Arfa and Ba to put the points on the board so far. A derby match should pull everybody together and the returning players, who are also leaders on the pitch, should help.
In 20 Premier League matches against Sunderland, Newcastle have won nine, drawn eight and lost three, so it doesn’t take a genius to work out who has had the upper hand. Give or take the odd 5-1 or 4-1, there is rarely much in it. Last season’s matches finished 1-1 and 1-0 to Newcastle.
Carlos Cuellar to get a card at 4.50. The Spaniard experiences his first north east derby and will have his hands full looking after Ba and Cisse.
Demba Ba to score first at 7.00. Going into this weekend’s matches, Ba leads the Premier League scoring charts. He is decent value to open the scoring.
Yohan Cabaye to score at 6.50. In the absence of last year’s match winner, Ryan Taylor, the midfielder should take most set-pieces. A price of 6.50 to score any time will do for me.
Score prediction: Sunderland 0-2 Newcastle (15.00)