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5 - Sunderland are unbeaten in their last five Premier League games against Newcastle (W3 D2), winning the last three in a row. Prowl.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 21, 2014
It’s straight to Anfield after the Tyne-Wear derby as Liverpool, struggling in mid-table and closer to the bottom three than the top four, host an Arsenal side they battered 5-1 in this fixture last season. But where will today’s game be won and lost? Goal’s Ewan Roberts takes a look...
Where will Liverpool v Arsenal be won and lost?
The departure of Jack Colback to Newcastle for ABSOLUTELY NOTHING left a sour taste for Sunderland last summer. Club legend Niall Quinn, now a pundit for Sky Sports, says: “As somebody who worked in the academy, it’s difficult when I look back at that time and see he went for zero.”
Graeme Bailey reports: “One change for Sunderland going into the derby as Steven Fletcher replaces the misfiring Jozy Altidore. Newcastle make four changes from their loss at Spurs in midweek with Daryl Janmaat, Cheick Tiote, Steven Taylor and Sammy Ameobi all coming in. No place for Mike Williamson, Remy Cabella, Massaido Haidara or Emmanuel Riviere - who all drop to the bench.”
Newcastle starting XI: Alnwick, Janmaat, Coloccini (c), S Taylor, Dummett, Sissoko, Colback, Tiote, Gouffran, Perez, Ameobi. Subs: Woodman, Haidara, Williamson, Cabella, Armstrong, Riviere, Cisse
Sunderland starting XI: Pantilimon, Vergini, Reveillere, O’Shea (c), Brown, Cattermole, Larsson, Gomez, Johnson, Wickham, Fletcher. Subs: Bridcutt, Rodwell, Altidore, Alvarez, Coates, Buckley, Mannone
Neither side head into this MASSIVE clash in great form; Newcastle were thumped 8-1 on aggregate by Arsenal and Tottenham in their last two clashes (4-1 and 4-0 respectively), while Sunderland laboured to draws with West Ham (1-1) and Liverpool (0-0) in the last fortnight.
So, obviously, today will be a 5-4 thriller. OBVIOUSLY.
The teams aren't even in yet but Newcastle have already landed a serious festive blow to their rivals, by parading Jack Colback on the front of the matchday programme!
Colback did the unthinkable in the summer by swapping the Stadium of Light for St James' Park and is set to face his former team-mates today. #SPICY
We have one hell of a Super Sunday waiting for you lovely people today, and our man Graeme Bailey is at St James' Park for the ding-dong Tyne-Wear derby: "A grey morning on Tyneside greets the North East's two premier clubs ahead of their 151st derby clash.
"History is in the offing as Alan Pardew looks to avoid the indignity of being the first ever Newcastle boss to lose four successive games against their bitter rivals - who have not lost at St James' since 2010."
Despite their win on Saturday, the acid test is still to come for West Ham. Sam Allardyce's men travel to Chelsea on Boxing Day, before facing Arsenal at home just two days later.
If Sam Allardyce's men avoid defeat in each clash, their initial good form may well turn into a genuine top-four tilt.
West Ham entrenched themselves in the top four ahead of Christmas Day (who knew!?) with a routine win over Leicester on Saturday. Andy Carroll gave the Hammers the lead with a cheeky lofted finish, before Stewart Downing wrapped up all three points with a stunning long-range strike.
Match Report: West Ham 2-0 Leicester City
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino: "I wish for my player the best but Harry has big potential and he's a big talent. Why not? If he continues to play in the same way, maybe the opportunity will come for him to play for the national team.
"It's becoming normal now that Harry Kane has scored. We are very happy with him. He worked very hard and scored a goal, which is very important for the striker."
Tottenham made it three wins in a week as Erik Lamela's glorious strike gave Spurs a narrow win over Burnley at White Hart Lane. Harry Kane had given the home side the lead with a close-range header, with Ashley Barnes levelling the scores with a brilliant long-range goal, but Lamela settled proceedings before half-time.
Match Report: Tottenham 2-1 Burnley
Everton manager Roberto Martinez: "It's a big setback because we had a very good result on Monday [a 3-1 win against QPR] and obviously you want to follow that through. I don't think we've had any run of good results like we did last season and that's why we're chasing and clearly it is a real setback because Southampton have been on an unfortunate run."
Southampton ended a run of five defeats in a row in emphatic style against below-par Everton at St Mary’s. Harrison Reed made his first Saints start and Graziano Pelle was back among the goals in a victory made even more impressive due to the absence of Morgan Schneiderlin and Dusan Tadic.
Match Report: Southampton 3-0 Everton
Gamblers out there who had QPR at 8/1 at half-time would have had a similar feeling. But I was not one of them. Whilst working at the same time. Stopping work to have a punt. Nop£. Wasn't m£. D£finit£ly not.
@GoalUK it will take me a lot more words than few to explain how elated I was to see QPR come from behind to win the game yesterday— Abdul-Hamid Arfa (@Abdulhamidarfa) December 21, 2014
*Charlie Austin for England alert*. The striker has scored goals at every level he’s played at and continues to defy the odds this season. West Brom took an early 2-0 lead but Austin’s heroic hat-trick completed an unlikely comeback to move QPR out of the relegation zone.
Match Report: QPR 3-2 West Brom
Hull manager Steve Bruce: "When you're in a run like that, confidence plays a part. When you're in a run like that, you need your best players to perform and there were too many today who underperformed. We have to be honest about that. We've had a wonderful two-and-a-half years; we've now had a terrible eight weeks and we have to see it through."
With 27 points from 36 league games in 2014, Hull have by far the worst record of all the teams to have been in the top flight for the whole calendar year. They suffered another defeat - their eighth of the season - after a rather fortunate Ki Sung-Yueng goal sealed the points for Swansea.
Match Report: Hull 0-1 Swansea
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal: "Yes, that’s what I mean. I’ve seen Manchester City in the first half against Crystal Palace. They struggle till half-time but at the end it is 3-0 – that’s the difference. We have to win these matches but there is still a long time to go."
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