October 25, 2015 12:00pm – Stadium of Light

In the first of two derby matches on the Barclay’s Premier League Sunday schedule, Sam Allardyce’s Sunderland side play host to arch-rivals and fellow strugglers Newcastle United.

Big Sam looking for derby boost

Allardyce is obviously not afraid of a challenge. Following the departure of the highly experienced Dutch Coach Dick Advocaat, the former West Ham boss agreed to take on what must be one of the toughest jobs in the top flight – managing Sunderland.

Since returning to the Barclays Premier League in 2008, the Black Cats have been serial relegation contenders and have seen 10 managers (including caretakers) pass through their doors. In the last eight seasons they have finished with less than 40 points on five occasions and have only reached the top-ten once.

In recent years, Steve Bruce, Martin O’Neill, Paolo Di Canio and Gus Poyet have all been sacked by the club despite keeping them in the Premier League. With the club now rooted to the bottom of the table, survival will once again be the main topic on the agenda for the new boss. But with recent stories of player unrest, poor discipline and dressing room splits, Big Sam certainly has his work cut out.

The new gaffer kicked off his spell in charge of the northeast club with a narrow 1-0 defeat away to West Bromwich Albion last weekend. A win against fierce rivals Newcastle would certainly help to get the fans back on side and could give Sunderland the boost they need in the quest for survival.

Have Newcastle finally turned the corner?

Few could have predicted that a Newcastle side that had only managed six goals all season would have doubled that tally by the end of last weekend – least of all Toon boss Steve McClaren.

But after putting six past newly promoted Norwich, could it be that things are looking up for the Geordies and their beleaguered boss? Well, there is a saying that states one swallow does not make a summer and after one game in which everything seemed to go their way, no one on Tyneside will be getting too excited. However, a win away at bottom-of-the-table Sunderland would certainly raise the positivity levels at St. James’ Park. Who will be the best on the day?

Recent form

Sunderland: LDLLL

Newcastle: WLDLL

Best Prediction

Sunderland have yet to win this season and have lost six out of nine games played including four of the last five. In comparison, Newcastle United look like a team in form, having picked up four points in their last three games including a draw against reigning-champions Chelsea, and a decisive win against Norwich last week.

Fans of the home side will be hoping that the new manager can start to make a difference this weekend. And why not? A club often experiences a short-term bounce after a new appointment. However, Sunderland have been in so much disarray that it may take a bit more time for the former Newcastle boss to get his message across.

This game represents a great chance for both sides to get their league campaigns back on the right track but it is Newcastle who have shown the first signs of revival. The Geordies have a good team spirit and have played well recently – even in the game at Man City, they put in a good first 45 minutes before coming undone. Despite concerns about their defence, they seem to have found the scoring touch, having netted 10 goals in the last four games.

Back the Away Win at 9/5 with Bet365 or Betfair.

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