The January signing said: “It’s going to be a difficult game of course but with us being at home, we will have the advantage of our fans.”
If the Black Cats were flying high in the league, one would expect Sunderland to benefit from the home advantage at the Stadium of Light. Fans would be up for the game and the positive energy would increase the atmosphere to a level at which the Magpies would struggle to cope.
However, that is not the case right now, and Sunderland head into the tie on a miserable run of form. The atmosphere will be tense and fraught, and the players will feel this edging from the crowd onto the pitch.
The pressure is on Dick Advocaat to get a positive result, due to the impending and very serious threat of relegation, and every mistake will be hounded by the Sunderland fans.
There is basis to the saying that home advantage does help a team, but it can impact on their performances in a negative manner if the team is already playing badly. There will be increased pressure, and the playing squad will feel it.
Defoe may believe Sunderland have the advantage in the Wear-Tyne derby due to being the home team, but, in reality, their form and the threat of relegation means that they could be at a major disadvantage.
That said, it is a derby, passion will be in plentiful supply from both sets of supporters and form can often go out of the window on such occasions, with contests taking on more a cup tie feel.