Newcastle Vs Sunderland Previewing the 139th Tyne-Wear Derby

Chris KirkCorrespondent IApril 15, 2008

Kevin Keegan will look to extend his side's unbeaten run to six games when Royston Keane brings his Labrador-lover's XI to civilisation on Sunday at 1.30pm. The 139th Tyne-wear derby is live on Sky Sports

A victory for common sense would see us register our 51st success, while a stalemate would be the 46th such result.

43 travesties of justice have taken place so far, while we've bulged their net 208 times and been the victim of atrocious refereeing decisions etc. on 205 occasions.

Since we lost at SJP in November 2000, we've won five and drawn the other three of these fixtures.

And for the Newcastle boss it's a chance to extend his 100% record against the old enemy to five games, having steered his side to four previous victories as follows:

29.03.92 won 1-0 (h)
18.10.92 won 2-1 (a)
25.04.93 won 1-0 (h)
04.09.96 won 2-1 (a)

Personally I never enjoy these occasions. The days preceding are filled with worry and stress. The night before I hardly sleep, that morning I can't eat so when I meet my mates at the pub I'm grouchy and tired.

The game seems to last 290 minutes if your winning and 50 minutes if your losing, and we always seem to get a referee who hates Newcastle.

All joking aside this is a very special day in the north-east sporting calendar, a derby match so passionate as to rival any in European football. The rivalry between the black and whites and the red and whites is something drummed into every youngster from an early age.

Any former player of either team will tell you what a truly massive occasion these games are in the region and how much a victory means to each set of fans.

These games don't need extra spice, but with Sunderland still looking to secure their top flight status, a draw wouldn't be much use to them, so an open encounter should follow.

The corresponding fixture earlier this season ended in a 1-1 draw. Danny Higgingbottom gave Sunderland the lead with a fine header only for James Milner to equalise for the Geordies with a low drive into the bottom corner.

The game was overshadowed by a flashpoint involving Dickson Etuhu and Joey Barton, although thankfully the referee showed common sense in calming the situation down and not brandishing cards galore.

Mike Dean is the man in the middle this weekend and we all hope he displays common sense and understanding during the match, allowing the game to flow and develop into a fair and passionate encounter.

Two years ago a young striker wrote his name into Newcastle folklore scoring against the old enemy on their own patch in a 1-4 drubbing, a match that also saw Alan Shearer score his final goal of a glittering career, a thumping spot kick in front of the away fans.

What a way to say farewell!

Michael Chopra returns to St James on Sunday as a Sunderland player for the first time, however it remains to be seen whether Keane will throw him into the lions den. A place on the bench is more likely for the young striker.

Three wins and two draws in the last five games for Keegan should see him stick with a 4—3—3 formation and really take the game to the visitors.

Here's to a thrilling and peaceful encounter between the two teams and may the Newcastle team win!!

Apologies, but I can't be objective when it comes to derby days.