The five big reasons why Newcastle United can't lose to Sunderland

Newcastle players form a group huddle ahead of kick-off in the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Newcastle United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on January 1, 2024. (Photo by PETER POWELL / AFP)Newcastle players form a group huddle ahead of kick-off in the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Newcastle United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on January 1, 2024. (Photo by PETER POWELL / AFP)
Newcastle players form a group huddle ahead of kick-off in the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Newcastle United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on January 1, 2024. (Photo by PETER POWELL / AFP) | AFP via Getty Images
Five reasons why Newcastle United can't lose to Sunderland as the Tyne-Wear derby returns.

Derby day is almost upon us. It's Sunderland versus Newcastle United - the first time this fixture has taken place in almost eight years.

Here, our writer Jordan Cronin gives FIVE reasons why Newcastle United CAN'T lose when the two clubs meet at the Stadium of the Light in the third round of the FA Cup on Saturday (kick-off 12:45pm).

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It's Sunderland...

It's a derby, and no one wants to lose a derby. Newcastle, as it's played out in recent(ish) years, don't have the best of records and this is an opportunity to put that right. With a division separating the two clubs, it remains a misery when they'll meet again after Saturday.

Having previously lost just one Tyne-Wear derby in 16 matches, United find themselves winless in nine, the last victory being *that* Ryan Taylor free-kick at the SOL in August 2011.

Since then, the Black Cats have won six and drawn three, including some humiliating 3-0 scorelines. It's been almost eight years since the last derby so Newcastle fans will hope they're due some bragging rights.

And Newcastle fans will not hear the last of it...

If Newcastle don't win, then you can bet they won't hear the end of it!

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You'll have seen the Sunderland response on social media already... "it's a free hit", "we shouldn't be winning" or "Alexander Isak is worth more than our team".

The truth is, only the latter is factually true, and that largely comes as a result of being seven years outside England's top-flight.

If Sunderland were taking on any other Premier League team who were ninth in the table and on a tough run of form, I suspect you wouldn't hear any of the above.

Secretly, Black Cats fans probably fancy their chances but playing down their chances is the easiest thing to do.

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A season-defining, and perhaps career-defining game for Eddie Howe

I wouldn't play into the outside narrative that Eddie Howe is at risk of losing his job - he's massively overachieved during his two and a bit years at St James' Park so deserves time - but questions are being asked, and the Newcastle boss must find the answers.

Seven defeats in eight, and with Manchester City and Aston Villa still to come in January, losing to Sunderland could make you wonder if this tough run is ever going to turn around.

Derbies losses have been the unravelling of former managers in the past. Now, that's not to say a defeat would result in a similar fate for Howe, but only a win will completely remove that suggestion by ultimately getting the club's season back on track.

Avoid a third consecutive FA Cup third round exit

For all the talk of the derby, Howe is also looking to avoid a third consecutive FA Cup third round exit to lower league opposition.

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In Howe's first season in charge, Newcastle lost 1-0 at home to League One outfit Cambridge United before third-tier Sheffield Wednesday did the same 12 months later at Hillsborough.

if Newcastle can get past the first hurdle, there's no reason why they can't go all the way. The FA Cup is the club's only realistic chance of ending its 69-year domestic trophy drought this term.

Don't let the season fizzle out

Exits from the Champions League and Carabao Cup in December, as well as slipping to ninth in the Premier League table, means Newcastle's 2023-24 campaign is at risk of fizzling out.

But as mentioned above, beating Sunderland and remaining in the FA Cup has the potential to galvanize United as they look to guarantee a place in Europe next season.

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