All eyes head to St James’ Park at midday on Sunday as Newcastle United entertain Sunderland in what is a massive north-east derby, especially for the away side as they are only out of the bottom three on goal-difference right now.
The Black Cats know that Wigan Athletic – the team sitting below them – are in FA Cup action this weekend, so this is a chance to move away from the bottom three, but picking up the points at the home of their rivals is going to be tough.
Newcastle looked as though they were going to come into this one in trouble as well, until Papiss Cisse’s 93rd minute strike against Fulham on Sunday gave the Magpies a 1-0 win and moved them up to 36 points.
Now, Alan Pardew’s men can all but guarantee that they remain a Premier League with three points here and not only that, they can put Sunderland in massive trouble, so it is safe to say there is some incentive for the hosts to take the spoils this weekend. They are at evens to win.
Newcastle have made a habit of scoring late goals in recent weeks, which is a surprise as they have been in Europa League action and had a demanding schedule, so you would think they were more likely to tire in the closing stages.
That hasn’t been the case though and with a player like Cisse at his disposal, Pardew knows there is always a chance of a goal. Cisse is the 9/2 favourite to score first.
It might be a bit of an understatement to say that Paulo Di Canio is being testing in his first few Premier League matches as a manager as he took his Sunderland side to Chelsea last time out and now has to take charge in one of the biggest rivalries English football has to offer.
The Italian will be relishing the opportunity though and although his men lost at Stamford Bridge over the weekend, he was pleased with the performance and believes if Sunderland continue to perform at that level, then they will have no problems in beating the drop.
If they lose this one, then the Stadium of Light club are in massive trouble as they would be level on points with Wigan and the Latics would have two games-in-hand. 33/10 are the odds you can get on an away win.
It is going to be interesting to see how Danny Graham performs as he is of course going up against the team he supported as a boy. There is no guarantee that he will start though as Connor Wickham got the nod at Stamford Bridge.
It is all set to be a scintillating 90 minutes between two sides that are desperate to come out on top. The game between these north-east rivals earlier in the season ended in a stalemate, so both are looking for the bragging rights here.