Combined 2014/15 XI's: Newcastle United vs Sunderland

We compare the squads of Newcastle United and Sunderland for the upcoming season.

Goalkeeper: Tim Krul vs Vito Mannone

The Dutch goalkeeper edges out Sunderland's player of the season last year in this battle. Krul is a fine shot-stopper and one of the better goalkeepers in the Premier League and, although Mannone is certainly underrated, he doesn't quite possess his Newcastle counterpart's ability. 

Left-back: Davide Santon vs Patrick Van Aanholt

Santon came through at Inter Milan a huge reputation, but his initial promise has never materialised. Although he is a decent Premier League left-back, he isn't the world-class talent that many had hoped he would become. That said, he still deserves his place in this team ahead of Van Aanholt, who is largely untested in his career to date.

Centre-back: Steven Taylor vs Wes Brown

If it wasn't for injury Wes Brown may have still been at Manchester United, in part solving the Red Devil's current defensive crisis. However, the English veteran has struggled with fitness issues throughout his career and it has effected his natural talent. A ball-player and a robust defender, he could have made it at the very top level had his body allowed him to. Taylor, meanwhile, has obvious limitations and although his no-nonsense style endears himself to supporters he doesn't have the ability that Brown does.

Centre-back: Fabricio Coloccini vs John O'Shea

Unquestionably Newcastle's best defender, Coloccini wins the battle of the two teams' captains. He has more mobility than O'Shea does, as the Irish international is coming towards the end of his career, and he is a better option now. 

Right-back: Daryl Janmaat vs Santiago Vergini

Janmaat was one of the most eye-catching transfers that Newcastle made this summer. The Dutchman is a regular in his country's national team and he is renowned as one of the better right-backs in Europe. As such, it was quite a coup for the Magpies to land him and if he lives up to his ability and reputation he promises to be an excellent addition to their side. 

Left-midfield: Moussa Sissoko vs Adam Johnson

A battle of poise vs power, it is a tough choice between two very different styles of player. That said, Johnson remains a match-winner on his day and that makes him a more appealing selection that Sissoko. The England international may never fulfil the potential that he once was considered to have, but he does have a marvellous natural ability and a lot more creativity than the brute strength that Sissoko can offer. 

Central-midfield: Siem De Jong vs Lee Cattermole

Like Janmaat, De Jong was an impressive addition from the Eredivisie that Newcastle have made this summer. His skill and goalscoring threat makes him win this close contest against Cattermole, who is starting to flourish under Gus Poyet's stewardship. 

Central-midfield: Jack Colback vs Jack Rodwell

Two midfielders who are full of energy, Rodwell's career has rather stalled whilst Colback's has taken off. The 'Ginger Pirlo', as he was dubbed by England manager Roy Hodgson, has earned national recognition for his consistency, but he still doesn't have the ability that Rodwell does. The £10 million signing from Manchester City was once touted to be one of brightest young prospects in England and he will be hoping to show that he still has a lot to offer after a sustained period out of the public eye, where he struggled to break into the Premier League champion's first-team. 

Right-midfield: Remy Cabella vs Ricardo Alvarez

Two players who threaten to light up their own respective sides. Both are amongst the most skilful players in possession in England's top flight and their audacity is sure to earn them many admirers this season. Cabella slightly edges to contest between the two, though, simply because he has the more potential to improve further - due to the fact he is slightly younger than Alvarez.

Striker: Papiss Cisse vs Connor Wickham

Papiss Cisse burst onto the scene after arriving at Newcastle, but he has struggled to sustain his initial goalscoring form. The Senegalese international now appears bereft of confidence and clumsy in possession, making him fall rather out of favour at the club. Whilst he has been struggling, Wickham has been thriving and he finally broke through towards the back end of last season. Much has been expected of the powerful forward ever since he joined from Ipswich, but he has took a while to find his feet at the top level before starting to flourish. Wickham became a key man in Sunderland's survival last season and he will be looking to build on that momentum this year, as the main man in their attack. 

Striker: Emmanuel Riviere vs Steven Fletcher

Alan Pardew has already expressed a concern about his side's goalscoring threat this season after trying, and failing, to land another striker on deadline day this summer and it is easy to see why. Riviere hasn't shown too much during his brief spell in England so far and, again, Sunderland's striking option looks better. Fletcher may be unremarkable, but he is a clinical finisher and guarantees goals when he is in the side.

Overall: Newcastle United 7-4 Sunderland

The Newcastle United squad unquestionably looks stronger than their North-East rival's, on paper. That said, the Magpies are managed by Pardew, who is under pressure to perform, whilst there is a sense of stability under Poyet at the Stadium of Light. That counts for a lot in modern day football and the two sides may be closer than the strengths of their starting XI's suggest come the start of the season. 

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