Sunderland vs Newcastle: Five key battles

The Tyne-Wear derby evokes passion in the respective fans, and both sides will be keen to win a precious three points later today.

New Sunderland boss Gus Poyet is set for a baptism of fire in his first game in charge at the Stadium of Light, as fierce local rivals Newcastle are the visitors to Wearside.

With the hosts on the bottom of the table with one solitary point this term, the former Brighton boss is in dire need of three points here.

Newcastle have been inconsistent this season, putting in excellent performances and poor ones also, and the home fans will feel that the Toon are there for the taking. Here are five battles that could well decide the game.

Lee Cattermole vs Cheick Tiote

Sure to be a physical derby encounter, these two hard-hitting midfielders will fight for dominance in the centre of the park.

Poyet has brought Cattermole back into the side in what looks like a good decision, and the tough midfielder will look to inspire the rest of his team and the home faithful.

Tiote brings a bit of steel to the Newcastle midfield and put in some excellent tackles in his side’s 2-2 draw with Liverpool last week.

Their clash should be captivating viewing, and don’t be surprised if one, or both, get sent off.

Steven Fletcher vs Paul Dummett

Both sides look decidedly weak in the centre of defence, and Newcastle will be without Fabricio Coloccini, Steven Taylor and the suspended Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.

As such, last week’s goal hero and local lad Paul Dummett will be thrown in at the deep end once more in the heart of Newcastle’s rearguard. The full-back put in an accomplished performance last week out of position, and will know just how important this game is for the fans.

Fletcher has recovered from a shoulder injury and will be given the task of getting the goals to keep Sunderland in the division. A lethal marksman if given opportunities, Dummett and Mike Williamson will need to limit the Scot’s time on the ball.

Emanuele Giaccherini vs Davide Santon

Two Italians will go head-to-head on Sunderland’s right flank, as Giaccherini takes on Davide Santon. The former Juventus attacker has the ability to win the game for the hosts, and Santon will need to close the space allowed to his countryman.

Santon likes to get forward also, so Giaccherini may find himself needing to track back on occasion also.

Loic Remy vs Ondrej Celustka

The in-form Remy should start on the left wing again, and will look to get in behind Celustka and add to his five Premier League goals.

The France international will certainly not stick to the touchline, and as such the Czech defender will need to work with his centre halves to avoid Remy getting sights of the Sunderland goal.

Hatem Ben Arfa vs John O’Shea

Ben Arfa was used as a false nine last week, and will most likely be the furthest man forward here. The French forward will look to bring onrushing midfielders into the game, and if given space will shoot from distance.

O’Shea is the most experienced of the Sunderland defenders, and Poyet will expect a dominant performance from the former Manchester United man. His ability to limit Ben Arfa’s influence could well be telling, one way or the other.

image: © Ben Sutherland

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