Newcastle v Sunderland, 12:00
– A dramatic stoppage-time strike from Papiss Cisse clinch an important 1-0 win for Newcastle at home to Fulham last weekend and ease the relegation fears previously surrounding the club.
– Jonas Gutierrez has established himself as a cult hero amongst the Toon Army thanks to his lung-busting efforts and unreserved commitment to the Newcastle cause. The Argentinian has proved himself a accomplished defender as well as attacker during his time on Tyneside and he has one of the best tackles success rate of anyone in the Newcastle squad to prove it, currently sitting at 72.3%.
– Fullback Davide Santon continues to impress with the consistent level of his performances this season, and his offensive abilities may well cause an at times hesitant Sunderland defence problems this weekend. For players with 20 or more attempts on goal, he currently sits second on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for Shot accuracy, with 80% of his attempts on goal testing the keeper this season.
– Should Newcastle local Shola Ameobi make an appearance this weekend, it will likely be from the bench. However the experienced front man knows what it means to play in derbies of this magnitude and will bring endeavor and passion to the Newcastle cause. Expect him to add to his already solid shot accuracy rate of 63.6% from 22 attempts should Alan Pardew decide to throw him into the mix.
– Paulo Di Canio’s first match as Sunderland manager nearly saw them pull of an unlikely win at Stamford Bridge last weekend. However Chelsea showed steely resolve to battle back and claim a 2-1 win to see Sunderland go into this weekend’s Tyne-Wear derby outside of the bottom three on goal difference alone.
– James McClean has certainly showcased his love of hard graft this season, the Irishman proving to be than happy to get involved in defensive duties in the middle of the park. He’s won more tackles than any other Sunderland player this season with 70.
– John O’Shea continues to quietly amass some very impressive figures with his performances this season. He’s joint second on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for interceptions with 185 and his reading of the game may well be crucial this weekend as the Black Cats look to negate the technique and vision Yohan Cabaye.
– Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has been attracting interest from a host of top clubs following some outstanding performances between Sunderland’s sticks. His excellent total of 180 saves may well be added to this weekend when he is called on to deal with Newcastle’s attacking threats.