Sunderland head in to the second edition of this season’s Tyne-Wear derby having climbed out of the relegation zone for the first time since the second week of the season.
Adam Johnson’s sixth goal in as many games gave Gus Poyet’s men a priceless midweek victory over fellow strugglers Stoke, whilst Newcastle could only draw away at Norwich.
You sense that Saturday’s derby match begins a defining period of the season for The Magpies, if they are to continue their push for European football next season. In their next five fixtures, Newcastle host their biggest rivals before playing three of the league’s top six teams (Tottenham, Chelsea and Everton) as well as a trip to Hull.
Sunderland can take great confidence from memories of their 3-0 away win at Newcastle last year; three points that went a long way to securing survival for The Black Cats. A repeat of those derby-day heroics would arguably be even more important this time round, and would see Sunderland do the double over Newcastle for the first time since 1967.
KICK OFF: Saturday, 12.45pm.
Sunderland 2 (Fletcher, Borini) Newcastle 1 (Debuchy), Premier League, 27 October, 2013.
Newcastle 0 Sunderland 3 (Sessegnon, Johnson, Vaughan), Premier League, 14 April 2013
Sunderland (Ba OG) 1 Newcastle 1 (Cabaye), Premier League, 21 October 2013.
Newcastle 1 (Sh Ameobi) Sunderland 1 (Bendtner), Premier League, 4 March, 2012.
Newcastle are without a win in their last four Tyne-Wear derbies; their longest winless run v Sunderland since 2002.
Sunderland are currently five games unbeaten away from home in the Premier League; only Manchester City and Tottenham can match this.
If the league table started the day Gus Poyet was appointed, Sunderland would be 12th.
Newcastle to win: 1.83
Sunderland to win: 4.33
TV: Match of the Day, BBC One. 10.30pm.