With both teams scrapping at the wrong end of the Premier League, there is arguably more riding on this weekend’s Tyne and Wear derby than ever before, as Newcastle host Sunderland.
Not only does it mark Rafa Benitez’s bow in this historic rivalry, but with at least one of these sides likely to be playing Championship football next season, any winner here could be worth millions upon millions of Great British pounds.
This game is always great entertainment for the neutral, maybe less so for those with loyalties on the line.
Here’s a look back at some of the best #CultClashes from recent years…
Sunderland 1-0 Newcastle – April 5 2015
Jermain Defoe only scored four goals last season, but sometimes it’s about quality not quantity.
In the middle of a desperate relegation battle, Sunderland had won just four of their 30 Premier League games when they hosted Newcastle.
In a tight game, one moment of monstrous magic won it, and it was the pocket rocket Defoe with a volley of such power it may never have stopped had it not blasted its way into the net.
The goal sparked the Black Cats into life and they lost just two of their remaining games to avoid the drop.
Sunderland 2-1 Newcastle – October 27 2013
Having failed to impress at Liverpool, Fabio Borini really needed a signature moment to announce himself, and the Italian waited for the biggest possible stage to do so.
The Black Cats had lost seven and drawn one of their opening eight games of the 2013/14 season, and found themselves heading for a ninth match without a win as full-time loomed at the Stadium of Light with the scores locked at 1-1.
But after a flowing move, Borini picked up the ball on the edge of the box, and walloped it beyond Tim Krul. Boom.
Sunderland would lose just four of their next 16 matches.
Newcastle 1-1 Sunderland – March 4 2012
With Newcastle chasing a top-four place, and Sunderland well inside the top 10, both teams had plenty to go for in this 2011/12 encounter.
A Nicklas Bendtner handed the visitors the advantage for a long spell, before Stephane Sessegnon saw red just before the hour.
Even so, Martin O’Neill’s men hung on until the dying moments – even stopping a Demba Ba penalty – but couldn’t deny derby hero Shola Ameobi sending St James’ into raptures with a late leveller.
It all proved too much for the usually cool and calm Lee Cattermole, who was shown a straight red after the final whistle. Both Alan Pardew and O’Neill condemned the match, which saw nine yellow cards and two red in total.
Newcastle 5-1 Sunderland – October 31 2010
This was a real life nightmare for Sunderland, but Halloween is now forever remembered fondly up the road on Tyneside.
A Kevin Nolan brace plus that man Shola handed the Toon a 3-0 lead by half-time, and after former Magpie Titus Bramble was shown a straight red shortly after the interval, this game was done.
A goal apiece from the duo (Nolan hat-trick) put the hosts in heaven with a 5-0 lead, while all Darren Bent’s late goal did was deny Krul a clean sheet bonus.
Incredibly this is still Newcastle’s most recent derby win.
Sunderland 1-4 Newcastle – April 17 2006
This was the first time Newcastle scored more than four goals at their local foes since 1955, but it didn’t look on for a long time as Justin Hoyte handed Mick McCarthy’s Sunderland the first-half lead.
Three goals in six second-half minutes from Michael Owen, Alan Shearer and Charles N’Zogbia stunned the home fans into silence, and Alberto Luque wrapped up the emphatic win late on.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.