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Why Sunderland Will Finish Above Newcastle This Season

At the start of this season former Sunderland manager Steve Bruce declared his intention to finish above local rivals Newcastle at the end of the season and the two north east sides have had mixed fortunes in the Premier League so far this season.

Newcastle began the season with a goalless draw at St James Park and conceded just 4 goals in the next 6 matches. Manager Alan Pardew has aimed for consistency in defence and kept a consistent backline with Dutch goalkeeper Tim Krul between the sticks and a back four of Simpson, Steven Taylor, Coloccini and Ryan Taylor.

Last month Newcastle found themselves in the Champions League places after an opening run of 7 wins out of 11 games and the goals of Demba Ba have been crucial to the Toon Army’s cause this season.

There are signs however, that the Magpies are beginning to lose some of their early season flight. Newcastle has not won now in 7 Premier League games, losing 4 of their last 6 games and the injury to Steven Taylor in particular is a huge blow and the English defender looks set to miss most of the season after building a promising centre back partnership with Fabricio Coloccini. Senegalese striker Demba Ba who has 13 of Newcastle’s 23 goals this season will be away with Senegal for the 2012 African Cup of Nations as will midfielder Cheik Tiote who will be on duty for the Ivory Coast. The immediate fixtures are not ideal either with Liverpool and Manchester United the next two opponents for the Geordies after the Boxing Day trip to the Reebok Stadium.

Over at the Stadium of Light Steve Bruce failed to carry out his goal this season, but there seems to be renewed optimism with manager Martin O’Neill now at the helm for the Black Cats.

When the former Aston Villa manager took charge, Sunderland were languishing in 16th position, some 15 points off rivals Newcastle. Fast forward just a few weeks and Sunderland under O’Neill have already picked up 2 wins out of 3 games and have immediately closed the gap down to 10 points.

With Asamoah Gyan on loan in the United Arab Emirates, Sunderland will not have the same concerns as Newcastle in regards to their players at this year’s African Cup of Nations. Losing Bent and Gyan in recent seasons has left Sunderland substantially short in attack and goals have been the major concern this season.

O’Neill immediately targeted his club’s striking options and got the Black Cats firing immediately with 5 goals scored in his 3 games in charge.

The Northern Irish manager is astute in the transfer market and will have been preparing a number of possible transfer targets, whilst he has been out of the game and January’s transfer window provides the ideal opportunity in which to address his concerns.

With the New Year approaching Sunderland fans will be full of optimism and hope in catching their local rivals come the end of the season.

Jonathan Day writes for Sportingly Better a football betting blog that provides free football tips, predictions and Premier League fantasy football picks.

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  1. John F

    December 27, 2011 at 10:12 am

    As someone with a brother who supports Sunderland I truly hope you’re right. It looks difficult at the moment but I never thought Newcastle would be sitting 2nd or 3rd for so long either.

  2. SoccerLimey

    December 26, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Whilst I do understnad you’re optimism for Sunderland now that O’Neill is the new manager, I think we’re a victim of wishful thinking here.

    Newcastle obviously were in a false position just based on their fixture list for the first 12 games. When you play teams that are not in the top 6, clearly you will pick up points whereas other teams are falling short. Their current level of form has shown that they are probably a top 8 team this year provided that Demba Ba keeps up the current fun of form.

    Sunderland are starting to come out of their early season slump but the honeymoon with O’Neill will wear off soon and the reality is that they don’t have a glut of quality players despite Bruce’s spending. They will avoid relegation for sure now that O’Neill is aboard but look for a mid table spot at best.

  3. Gary

    December 26, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    No way Sunderland will finish above Newcastle this season. Maybe next season. Too much ground to cover for Sunderland after the great start Newcastle have had.

  4. Norman

    December 25, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    I don’t see Sunderland finishing above Newcastle unless Mike Ashley sells off Collocini and Tiote. I wouldn’t put anything past him. Right now Newcastle has the better team and should finish comfortably in the top 8. Sunderland will do well to finish around 10th given their poor start.

  5. Peter

    December 25, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    In your dreams mate. Newcastle may have hit a bad patch but they will still finish above Sunderland. Do you think only Sunderland will improve their squad in January. Why won’t Newcastle?

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