On Sunday afternoon Sunderland and Newcastle go head-to-head in a horse-punching, blood-boiling, 90 minute smash-up where local pride isn’t the only thing that’s at stake. Three precious points are much desired for both North East sides, as with each passing week the threat of relegation becomes even more real.
Steve McClaren and his intriguing barnet travel to the Stadium of Light to face Big Sam Allardyce’s side at midday, and ahead of the clash we’ve crunched 15 years of data to pick out the weekend’s best punts.
Cats always land on their feet
Sunderland are the favourites for the derby, which would probably come as a shock if you’d had to witness their 810 minutes of league football this season. However the Black Cats have won the last five derby games on the spin, and are unbeaten in seven clashes with Newcastle.
While they haven’t picked up a win this season, that shouldn’t worry punters too much. While many a lazy pundit will spout some nonsense about the form book being torn up before a derby game, in this instance they may be correct. In three of those five derby wins for Sunderland, the Black Cats were coming into the game after a winless streak of five games or more.
Take away Newcastle’s bizarre 6-2 victory against Norwich and both sides have one draw and four losses in their last five games, with Newcastle scoring two more than Sunderland in that time, but also conceding four more.
Big Sam’s side have hardly set the world alight this campaign, but they can pick up their first three points in the biggest game of the season.
Stay under the line
Punters hoping for a high-scoring thriller between two teams who are leaky at the back are set for disappointment. In the last 20 Tyne-Wear derby games 65 per cent have had under 2.5 goals and 85 per cent have had three or less. If you take the last 10 derby matches at the Stadium of Light, nine of them have featured under 3.5 goals – with Newcastle’s 4-1 demolition of the Black Cats in the 2005/06 season the only exception.
Sunderland have managed just four goals in their four home games this year, while Newcastle have racked up just one goal in their four matches on the road. Take away Newcastle’s six-goal haul against Norwich, and neither side have managed to score more than two goals in a game this year. It looks wise to stay under 2.5 goals at odds of .
Scores on the doors
With the trends pointing to a low-scoring affair, and after previously giving Sunderland the nod it is tempting to back Allardyce’s men to win 1-0 at , or alternatively backing them to win to nil at . Four of Sunderland six derby wins in the last 20 games have been to nil, while the last two Tyne-Wear derby games have finished 1-0 to the Black Cats. The majority of Newcastle’s defeats last season were 1-0 losses, and Sunderland can inflict another on Sunday.