Five steps to derby success for Newcastle

Posted by Marc Duffy

Ian Horrocks/Newcastle United/Getty ImagesThe last thing Newcastle supporters want to see Sunday is the sight of Sunderland running rampant at St James' Park, as David Vaughan and the Black Cats did in last season's 3-0 victory.

It is said that form counts for nothing when it comes to a local derby.

Sunderland supporters will hope this is true when they come up against Newcastle in the season's first North East derby on Sunday.

Sunderland are woeful -- they've collected one point from their last 810 minutes of Premier League football. One point from nine Premier League games. During this run they've scored only five goals while conceding 21.

Average that over 38 games and they'd end up with four points and a goal difference of minus-67. That's a long way worse than their then-record breaking low tally of 19 points accumulated in the 2003 season.

On the other hand, Newcastle although inconsistent, have fared far better. Their last point came against Liverpool in their last Premier League game despite playing more than half the game with 10 men and they currently sit nine points and ten places above their rivals in the table. Newcastle have collected six points on their travels already.

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It won't be easy though -- these things never are.

Here are five things Newcastle must do to help themselves to all three points:

1. Don't allow Sunderland early momentum

Their heads are down -- not only the players, but the fans are despondent too. They are lacking in confidence and they've struggled to sell out for this one because the supporters have had enough. Who can blame them? They haven't won at home in six months.

This could change if they start the game strongly and grab an early goal. The crowd will be back onside and the players will grow in confidence under new manager Gus Poyet.

But if Newcastle take the game to Sunderland from the off and they grab an early goal, a bad situation for the Black Cats will all of a sudden look a whole lot worse. If Newcastle score early, the home crowd will turn on their players and Newcastle's task will become a whole lot easier.

2. Keep calm

No indiscipline can be afforded. Newcastle were cruising the game at the Stadium of Copyright Infringement last season when Cheik Tiote's red card turned the tide. In the end, Newcastle were worthy of the point they gained but they had a lot to thank Fabricio Coloccini for -- the captain was magnificent. His absence on Sunday will be a miss.

Leave the indiscipline to Messrs. Bardsley and Cattermole if they're playing. Both could have been sent off when Newcastle won there in 2011-12 (Ryan Taylor, over the wall) but only Bardsley was given his marching orders.

3. Turn up for the whole 90 minutes

I'm not quite sure what to make of Newcastle this season. They were as good in the win at Cardiff and Aston Villa as they were bad in the losses to Everton and Hull.

They were very good against Liverpool last weekend -- the better team before Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa's dismissal and then a battling team for the rest of the game.

One thing Newcastle have struggled with under Alan Pardew has been consistency over 90 minutes. All too often Newcastle have been very good for 45 and very poor for 45. They can't afford for this to be the case on Sunday.

Newcastle have only beaten Sunderland once in the five games they've played against them with Pardew in charge and he's lost both to Poyet when the Uruguayan was Brighton manager. This has to improve.

4. Let the Sunderland team worry about Newcastle's players, not vice-versa

Not too many of the Sunderland starting XI would get a game for Newcastle. The visiting players must remember this and have belief -- be confident but not overly so, and channel this confidence in the right way.

Get Hatem Ben Arfa, Loic Remy and Yohan Cabaye involved early and show Sunderland what this Newcastle team are capable of.

5. Never forget last season

Newcastle were obviously more motivated against Liverpool last week because of the 6-0 embarrassment against them the season before. The same approach has to be taken here.

The players will remember the feelings they had when they were beaten 3-0 at St James' Park in April (I know one player got very drunk afterwards in a real bout of misery, one who rarely touches a drop) and they must use these feelings to make sure that it does not happen again. The supporters wouldn't be so forgiving a second time and the players now have a chance to put it right.


I'll be there, I'll be nervous, but I can't wait.

Twitter: @MarcSDuffy

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