North East pride is at stake as Sunderland host Newcastle in Sunday’s traditionally fierce Tyne-Wear derby at the Stadium of Light.
Neither side have particularly shone so far this season, but form often counts for little in these hotly-contested encounters.
Sunderland will be without captain Lee Cattermole, who was sent off against the Magpies last season, after the midfielder saw red in the Capital One Cup against MK Dons last month. Defender Titus Bramble could miss out with a hip problem.
For the hosts, there is no question who Newcastle will keeping a close eye on. Steven Fletcher, fresh from a return to Scotland’s national side, has five goals in as many games this season.
Alan Pardew’s team have a lengthy injury list, with Ryan Taylor (knee) out again and Tim Krul (arm), Fabricio Coloccini (hamstring) and Steven Taylor (calf) all doubts.
The Magpies were humbled by Manchester United on home soil before the international break and with just one win in their last five, expect a positive approach from the visitors.
Games like this are traditionally close affairs, and an outright result is difficult to call. So perhaps backing both teams to find the target is a safer bet.
Verdict: Sunderland 1-1 Newcastle
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