Newcastle United will host Sunderland for a Premier League fixture on Saturday, Feb. 1 for the latest installment of the Tyne-Wear derby.
Newcastle will be looking to further entrench their standing in the top eight of the table. With 37 points, they currently trail Manchester United by three for seventh and lead Southampton by five for the eighth spot.
Sunderland are much further down the table but have to be feeling good about their placement.
With a 1-0 win over Stoke City in their last league action, Sunderland moved to 21 points and into 17th place in the table. Sunderland are now actually in a good position to make a big jump up the table.
Swansea City, all the way up in 11th place, are just three points ahead of Sunderland.
Of course, none of this likely would have been possible for Sunderland had they not earned an away win in April over Newcastle last season. Those three points were vital to Sunderland avoiding relegation.
Sunderland also beat Newcastle earlier this season. That came in Gus Poyet's first home game as manager for Sunderland and his team's 2-1 triumph was their first win of the season.
Sunderland are now hoping to record their first double over Newcastle since 1967.
When: Saturday, Feb. 1 at 7:45 a.m. ET/12:45 p.m. GMT
Where: St. James' Park, Newcastle, England
TV: NBCSN; game will not be available on live TV in the UK
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra; no information was found for a UK live stream
Key Storyline: Will Newcastle be able to overcome missing stars?
One thing is for certain, Newcastle has to learn to survive without Yohan Cabaye. After being sold to Paris Saint-Germain, he's not coming back.
This figures to be a rough adjustment for the Magpies. They have struggled when Cabaye was not in the lineup:
On top of that, Newcastle will also be without striker Loic Remy for this match.
Although, the missing firepower is alarming it does present opportunities to other players to step up. Such as Luuk De Jong. NBC's Mike Prindiville passed along this quote from De Jong:
I’m really motivated. The first half of the season hasn’t been nice for me because I didn’t play much. I just want to show my talent, score goals and be successful again. That is why I’m here.
Newcastle is going to need big performances from players like De Jong to deal with the absence of Remy, as well as helping his team stay afloat without Cabaye.
Prediction: Newcastle 1-2 Sunderland
Given Newcastle's notable absences, and Sunderland's recent strong form, I can't predict any victor for this game other than Sunderland.
Sunderland are unbeaten in their last three matches. They are moving up the table and now stand a golden opportunity to hand their rival a double defeat. They will not let that opportunity pass idly by.
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