Sunderland 2-1 Newcastle United: What We Learned From the Tyne-Wear Derby

Sunderland started the brighter in their match against Newcastle, opening the scoring within the first five minutes through a Steven Fletcher header from an Adam Johnson cross. Throughout the first half, Sunderland seemed to be the side more alive to the action, winning every ball and perhaps should have went in 2-0 at half time. Steven Fletcher was denied by a decent save from Tim Krul, then Jozy Altidore failed to take advantage on the rebound.

Newcastle equalized early in the second half, the Sunderland defense failed to track the run of Matiheu Debuchy, who tucked away his first Newcastle goal at the back post. Temporarily, the momentum was with Newcastle as they forced a few chances with substitute Shola Ameobi striking narrowly wide. Sunderland eventually found a winner after 85 minutes, when Jozy Altidore’s knock back was spectacularly finished by Fabio Borini to send the Stadium of Light into utter jubilation, sealing Sunderland’s first home win over Newcastle since 2008. So what have we learned from this important edition of the Tyne-Wear derby?

Sunderland May Yet Survive

A morale boosting win against their local rivals may be the catalyst to survival as it was last season. It was by no means a ‘lucky victory’ as Sunderland were the better side throughout, with Gus Poyet’s style of football paying dividend for the Wearsiders. Gus Poyet is confident the win will be the turning point for the club, telling BBC’s Match of the Day, “I’m sure the players will be even more together and the fans will look forward to the next game.”

The schedule at the Stadium of Light seems unrelenting with Manchester City, Chelsea, and Tottenham the next three sides to make the trip. If Sunderland manage to get the fans on their side, as they did against Newcastle, it will be one of the most intimidating places to visit in the Premier League. Considering how fragile Manchester City’s back line are looking, it wouldn’t be surprising if they lost for a third season in a row at the Stadium of Light.

Newcastle May be Candidates for Relegation

It’s never good to lose to the bottom side in the league, but when it’s your local rivals it makes it doubly worse. Newcastle showed just how desperate times may have got at Saint James’ Park by refusing to speak to local journalists from the Evening Chronicle, the Journal, and the Sunday Sun. It was believed to have occurred due to the Chronicle’s coverage of the protests against Mike Ashley before the Liverpool game, which the club deemed harsh.

It’s not the first time Newcastle have banned journalists; Luke Edwards of the Daily Telegraph was banned last season for publishing an article on the unrest at the club. With media tensions rising and the results on the pitch remaining inconsistent, it is not inconceivable that Newcastle could get relegated. After the next two games against Tottenham and Chelsea, they may be close to the bottom three.

Still there is no reason for panic just yet, for the derby defeat was not a complete disaster. Newcastle did improve in the second half and had the chances to win the game; an excellent goal from Fabio Borini was arguably impossible to prevent. A relegation battle may loom large, but there are still sides in the league that look worse than Newcastle.

Will Jozy Altidore Find His Form at Sunderland?

Still yet to score his first league goal for Sunderland, it never seemed likely that Jozy Altidore would score against Newcastle. It seems he has left his shooting boots in the Netherlands, but having said that, his play in the build of goals cannot be undermined. On Sunday, he played a essential role in holding the ball up, and it was his cutback that saw Borini rifle in the winner. He may not be prolific in front of goal, but his role has changed since his move to Sunderland.

The Wear-Tyne Derby is a Premier League Classic

With Sunderland currently lying bottom of the Premier League, there is a good chance that it was the last Wear-Tyne derby at the Stadium of Light for some time. One of the fiercest and most evenly contested derbies in England, it is arguably the best of the lot. Usually intriguing and tight games, it always has an interesting outcome that defines each club’s season. To lose it would be a real shame for the league that names itself as the “Best in the World.” Inside the stadium on Sunday, it was clearly evident how big the game was as the atmosphere was electric.