The North East will come to a standstill on Saturday lunchtime as Sunderland host arch rivals Newcastle.
Both teams picked up credible draws on the opening day of the season although they were overshadowed by one incident. Joey Barton’s tangle with Arsenal new boy Gervinho saw the Toon hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons yet again. Apart from that skirmish the Geordies put on a fantastic defensive performance as they constantly took the sting out of the Gunners tails on the way to a 0-0 draw.
Sunderland also produced a sterling performance against a Liverpool side boasting over £100 million worth of new signings in the ranks. New boy Sebastian Larsson put in a superb shift down the right and also popped to volley home a smashing equaliser to ear his side a 1-1 draw.
Both teams have problems at left back with Ryan Taylor filling the hole left by Jose Enrique. Kieran Richardson also plugged the gap in Sunderland’s problem area although his unconvincing display could force Steve Bruce into a change. It will also be interesting to see if Barton can hold his temper with both sides of the Stadium of Light roaring his name for different reasons.
Steve Bruce is still searching for his first win over Newcastle as Black Cats boss whilst the same applies to Alan Pardew in the Magpies dugout. Sunderland have the better team at the moment but like their rivals are a bit flat up front at the minute.
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Lee Cattermole: The Sunderland skipper will be vital to shutting down Newcastle’s midfield combo of Yohan Cabaye and Cheik Tiote.
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Shola Ameobi: Comes alive in derby games and the Toon will be looking at him to lead the line and bully the Sunderland centre backs.