– Gus Poyet’s first game in charge of Sunderland ended in a heavy defeat as they lost 4-0 to Swansea at the Liberty Stadium. There is plenty on the line this weekend, not least the support of the Sunderland fans, as they take on fierce local rivals Newcastle.
– Sunderland had their hands full defensively all over the pitch last weekend, none more so than Lee Cattermole. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index he made more interceptions than any other player in the league last round with 7.
– Adam Johnson has been quietly going about his work this season and has established some impressive statistics to show he may not be far away from some of his best form. He leads the Black Cats squad across a number of fields, including attacking contributions (33) and successful passes in the opponent’s half (122). Johnson is 18/5 with 888sport.com to score at any time this weekend.
– Emanuele Giaccherini is apparently keen to start shouldering some of the attacking burden for Sunderland this season, last weekend becoming only the second player in the squad, after Craig Gardner, to have moved into double-figures for attempts on goal (10).
– Physical striker Jozy Altidore is always going to be a handful for any defender and his style is well-suited to the demands of the Premier League. However he may looking to be a bit cannier in the way he combats defenders moving forward, leading the Sunderland squad as he does for fouls with 16 according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
– 10-man Newcastle battled to a 2-2 draw with Liverpool at St James’ Park last weekend, with goals from Yohan Cabaye and debutant Paul Dummett seeing Alan Pardew’s side grabbing a deserved point in a testing encounter.
– Local lad Paul Dummett achieved a boyhood dream by scoring at the Gallowgate end on his debut for NewcastleUtd. A defender by trade, Dummett did well in his normal territory at the back as well, successfully completing a very solid 75% of his 4 attempted challenges.
– It’s easy to see why Hatem Ben Arfa continues to be such a prized asset on Tyneside, his ability to influence a game shining through in the early part of this season. He currently stillleads the Newcastle squad for attacking contributions (shots on goal, dribbles, assists, crosses) with 40 according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. You can find Ben Arfa at an industry best 14/5 to score at any time this weekend with 888sport.com.
– Mathieu Debuchy has been in fine defensive form for Newcastle so far this term, completing 81.3% of his 32 attempted challenges, as well as 90 overall defensive contributions (tackles won, blocks, clearances, interceptions).
– Cheick Tiote certainly put himself about against Liverpool, showcasing his importance as the rock in the Newcastle midfield. He attempted 9 tackles against the Reds, the most of any player in the last round of
fixtures according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, winning 66.6% of them.