Rarely can so much have been resting on this derby match but with both teams making disastrous starts to the season defeat here would surely usher in a long, dark winter. Between them they’ve managed just one win in 18 games this term and that was a thumping Newcastle victory last weekend, so they at least approach this game with some sort of momentum.
Not that momentum means much in the North East as Sunderland have won the last five meetings between these teams and the higher placed side has won none of the last 12 Wear-Tyne derbies.
How can you back a team that has won only four of their 23 home matches since the start of last season? Well pairing them against a team that has won just three of 23 on the road and that has lost nine of the last 10 helps. However, this is the first time that the Magpies have headed into the derby on the back of a win since 2006 and theoretically they won’t face many easier away matches than this. In the past two seasons Sunderland have won four but lost six of their 11 home games against bottom-six finishers while Newcastle have won four and lost four of their 11 such away matches, so there’s not much to split these teams in terms of form and we’d probably leave the match outcome alone.
Six of the last nine derbies have had fewer than three goals as have 14 of Sunderland’s last 23 home matches and 10 of Newcastle’s last 18 away. Ex-Magpies boss, Sam Allardyce, couldn’t inspire much improvement in his first match in charge of the Mackems but the defence only conceded once – something they’d managed just twice in their previous nine games – and while it is important they start winning games that will surely begin at the back. Newcastle, meanwhile, have not had more than three goals in any of their 10 trips to bottom-half teams since the start of last season, with six having fewer than three strikes. Overall, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to expect a tight, tense affair with Under 2.5 Goals a decent price at 10/11.
With so much riding on the match things could easily boil over if one team starts getting frustrated and the past 10 derbies have averaged 66 booking points per match with four of the games seeing a red card. It’s 9/4 that there’s a sending off and given four of the 18 reds handed out this season have gone to players from these teams that doesn’t seem a bad price.
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