Sunderland boss Dick Advocaat will be aiming to follow in the footsteps of his two most recent predecessors as he oversees his first Wear-Tyne derby against Newcastle United.
Despite not enjoying significant levels of success, Paulo Di Canio and Gustavo Poyet both had a perfect record in this fixture home and away, and what’s more, achieved their first victory as Black Cats boss against the Magpies, so the experienced Advocaat has the chance to make it a quirky three in a row.
However, he is in charge of a team that has just four wins to its name in 30 Premier League outings this season and could find itself in the bottom three by kick-off. Goals have been hard to come by, with another blank at West Ham United last time out despite a more attack-minded approach.
Newcastle are in a much more comfortable position in the table, but there is almost as much pressure on them as they do not want to lose to their biggest rivals for the fifth time in succession. As ever, it will be a highly-charged atmosphere, so John Carver’s first target will be to quieten the home crowd.
Jack Colback will earn an interesting reception back at the Stadium of Light, but fellow midfielder Moussa Sissoko will provide the visitors’ biggest threat. He continued his fine season with a goal against Arsenal recently, and Carver will be keen for his players to take their performance from the second half of that game into this one.
Lee Cattermole will provide the physical presence in the Sunderland midfield upon returning from a two-match ban, and Billy Jones could be back from injury. Wes Brown, Will Buckley and Emanuele Giaccherini are all unavailable.
Fabricio Coloccini and Papiss Cisse are still suspended for Newcastle, who are without Massadio Haidara for the rest of the season. Mehdi Abeid could feature after recovering from a thigh problem.
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