Newcastle v Sunderland preview
Derby day in the North East as Magpies entertain Black Cats
Last Updated: 02/03/12 12:01pm
Emotions will be running high in the North East on Sunday as Newcastle play host to local rivals Sunderland in the Tyne-Wear derby.
The Magpies have enjoyed the upper hand in meetings between the two clubs in recent times and will be hoping for more of the same this weekend.
Newcastle have won eight, drawn five and lost only one of their last 14 Premier League meetings with the Black Cats.
Should they be able to pick up another three points on home soil this time around, they will keep themselves firmly in contention for a top-four finish.
Victory in front of their own supporters would also see them secure a derby double over their arch-enemies, with a 1-0 win having been picked up at the Stadium of Light back in August.
Getting back to winning ways is a must for Alan Pardew's side if they are to push for European qualification this term, while they will also be looking for their most potent attacking weapon to start firing again.
Demba Ba has failed to find the target in the Magpies' last two outings, but he has not gone three league starts without scoring a goal since joining Newcastle last summer.
Sunderland will make the short journey to Tyneside hoping to keep Ba quiet and break out of their mini-wobble.
The Black Cats have come unstuck in their last two top flight fixtures, but have not tasted three defeats in a row since April 2011.
Their record against Newcastle offers cause for concern, though, with 23 league matches having come and gone since they last kept a clean sheet against their neighbours.
Sunderland have also had a player sent off in two of the last three meetings between the two sides, so need to make sure they keep their cool on Sunday.
Newcastle are hoping Papiss Cisse will be ready to get his first taste of derby day this weekend.
The Senegalese striker is nursing a groin complaint, but he is expected to recover in time to put himself in contention for a starting berth.
Long-term absentees Sylvain Marveaux (groin), Steven Taylor (Achilles), Leon Best (knee) and Sammy Ameobi (knee) remain sidelined and will play no part in Pardew's plans.
Sunderland will assess striker Stephane Sessegnon ahead of the game after he was delayed on his return from international action.
The 27-year-old suffered a problem with his flights back from Benin's Africa Cup of Nations 0-0 qualifier draw in Ethiopia on Wednesday and has seen his pre-match preparations disrupted as a result.
Sweden midfielder Sebastian Larsson is expected to be available after complaining of feeling unwell before he scored twice in his country's 3-1 victory in Croatia, as is striker Nicklas Bendtner (ankle).
Keeper Keiren Westwood (wrist) definitely misses out, with Craig Gordon likely to take his place on the bench, and full-back Phil Bardsley (calf) remains a doubt.
Possible starting XIs
Newcastle: Krul, Simpson, Coloccini, Williamson, Santon, Taylor, Tiote, Cabaye, Gutierrez, Cisse, Ba.
Sunderland: Mignolet, O'Shea, Turner, Kyrgiakos, Bridge, Larsson, Cattermole, Gardner, Richardson, McClean, Bendtner.
Barclays Premier League
|4||West Ham United||16||28|
|14||West Bromwich Albion||16||17|
|18||Queens Park Rangers||16||14|