English Premier League: 4 Things to Watch in Sunday's Tyne-Wear Derby

Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistOctober 18, 2012

English Premier League: 4 Things to Watch in Sunday's Tyne-Wear Derby

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    On Sunday, one of the best rivalries in English football is renewed when Sunderland host Newcastle United at the Stadium of Light.

    The Tyne-Wear derby will be played for the 144th time on Sunday, and it has been recently dominated by Newcastle United.

    As with all rivalries in sports, the current state of both clubs does not matter much as they will be focused on beating their hated rivals.

    This season, Newcastle is once again ahead of Sunderland in the standings, with the Magpies sitting in 10th place and the Black Cats in 14th.

    As always, there are plenty of things to watch for in the Tyne-Wear Derby; here are four that you should keep an eye on for Sunday's match.

Can Newcastle Continue Its Recent Dominance of Rivalry?

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    In the last eight EPL matches between the two rivals, Newcastle has won three times, Sunderland has won once and there have been four draws, all with a 1-1 scoreline.

    Last season, Newcastle were able to beat Sunderland 1-0 at the Stadium of Light; the return fixture was 1-1 draw at St. James' Park.

    The Magpies are considered to be the better team coming into the match after their fifth place finish last season.

    However, a slow start to the season has put them in 10th place this season.

    Look for Alan Pardew's club to use a win in the Tyne-Wear Derby as a momentum builder heading into a stretch of matches where they will play three of their next four at home.

Can Sunderland Bounce Back from Loss to Manchester City?

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    Before their 3-0 loss to Manchester City two weeks ago, Sunderland had started the season with a five-match unbeaten streak.

    That unbeaten streak consisted of one win and four draws, with their only win coming against Wigan on September 29th.

    Black Cats manager Martin O'Neill will also be looking to use the Tyne-Wear derby as a momentum builder for his squad as they look to climb up the EPL table.

    With two winnable matches against Stoke and Aston Villa coming up next on the fixture list, a win against a strong Newcastle side would undoubtedly boost the morale of a club who have only won once this season.

Two of the Best Young Keepers in the World

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    The future of European goalkeeping will be on display in both nets in Sunday's match.

    Sunderland's Simon Mignolet does not get all the hype that his fellow Belgians receive, but he has held his own in the net for his club since taking over the starting job.

    At 24, Mignolet is not the only young Belgian goalkeeping prospect, with Thibaut Courtois at Atletico Madrid, on loan from Chelsea, being the other top keeper for his country.

    Newcastle's Tim Krul is expected to make his return from injury on Sunday for the Magpies.

    Krul, also 24, has been out since September when he suffered an elbow injury while training with the Netherlands.

    The Dutch keeper was one of the pleasant surprises in Alan Pardew's squad last season and is one of the main reasons that Newcastle had so much success last season.

    Just like Mignolet, Krul faces stiff competition at the national team level with Maarten Stekelenburg, Michel Vorm and Kenneth Vermeer all fighting for to be the first-choice Dutch keeper.

Plenty of Goal Scorers in Both Lineups

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    By now, everyone knows about the dominant duo from Senegal, Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba, that play for Newcastle.

    Ba has been the primary goal scorer for the Magpies this season with six, while Cisse is still looking for his first goal of the season.

    Beyond the duo up front, there is Hatem Ben Arfa, who is one of the most dangerous attacking midfielders in the EPL.

    As for Sunderland, they may have made of the best signings of the summer by bringing in Steven Fletcher from Wolves.

    Fletcher has scored all five of the club's goals in the EPL this season as he looks to improve on his 12-goal season last year.

    The Scotland international will be looking to go down in Black Cats history with a goal in his first Tyne-Wear derby in front of the home fans.