Kevin Phillips has backed his former club Sunderland to get the better of Newcastle United in the Tyne–Wear derby on Sunday.
The Black Cats will take on Newcastle at St. James’ Park in the Premier League looking to win their first competitive match since November 3.
Sunderland are once again fighting for survival and heading into this weekend’s round of matches found themselves just two points above the relegation zone in 16th.
Meanwhile, the Magpies are in the top half of the table, but back-to-back defeats in North London appear to have brought Alan Pardew’s side back to earth.
Newcastle suffered a 4-1 defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in the league last weekend and went down 4-0 to Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane in the quarter-finals of the League Cup.
Phillips, a former Sunderland striker, believes that Newcastle’s shaky defence will struggle against Gus Poyet’s side and wrote on Skysports.com: “The situation isn’t ideal for Newcastle’s defence.
“They’ve let in four against Tottenham and Arsenal in the past week and they’d like an experienced person behind them, talking to them and helping them. But they’ll have to deal with what they’ve got on the day.
“Sunderland go into the game without a win since the start of November but form can go out of the window on occasions like this. It’s about who performs on the day, who doesn’t freeze, who doesn’t bottle it.
“Sunderland have come out on top in the last three derbies, so who knows which way it will fall this weekend. It’ll be difficult for Sunderland but given their recent history in these games, I reckon they might surprise a few people and nick a very tight match.”