Premier League Preview: Newcastle - Sunderland

Both sides lie perilously close to the danger zone but with the Black Cats winless in nine games, Alan Pardew's men will look to capitalize on their strong home form this season.

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew is suffering from an injury crisis on top of just a three-day break after his side's Europa League exertions on Thursday night.

The Magpies are without captain Fabricio Coloccini, Davide Santon and Cheikh Tiote, though Hatem Ben Arfa - originally diagnosed as out for the season - has made a remarkable recovery and could play a part.

Steven Taylor is also an injury doubt, although Pardew remains hopeful he can feature on Sunday, while Ryan Taylor could also make his comeback from a knee injury.

The visitors, meanwhile, are without skipper Lee Cattermole and top scorer Steven Fletcher, both of whom have been ruled out for the rest of the season.

Wes Brown (knee) and Carlos Cuellar (ankle) are also unavailable, with John O'Shea and Matthew Kilgallon thereby expected to continue in central defense.

Up front, youngster Connor Wickham - who started the 2-1 defeat against Chelsea - could be preferred to Danny Graham, while James McClean is in contention to start ahead of Alfred N'Diaye down the left.
  • Ahead of Sunday's crunch clash, Newcastle sits five points clear of safety in 13th place, while Sunderland is level on points with 18th-placed Wigan having played a game more than the Latics.
  • Alan Pardew's men have won just two of their last five games, though the victories came in proverbial six-pointers against Fulham and Stoke.
  • Papiss Cisse (pictured right) scored an injury-time winner in both of Newcastle's recent wins to take his tally for the season to 12 goals - with eight of those coming in the Premier League.
  • The bulk of the Magpies' points this season have come from their home form. Pardew's side has won nine of its 16 games at St. James' Park, as opposed to just one win in as many away matches.
  • Sunderland is without a win in nine league games. Its last victory came at the DW Stadium when it beat Wigan 3-2 in January.
  • The Black Cats' form on their travels this term is marginally better than that of their Tyne-Wear derby rivals but they have still fared poorly away from the Stadium of Light with just three away wins out of 16, having suffered nine defeats on the road.
  • Black Cats stopper Simon Mignolet has been in fine form this season, helping Sunderland to a total of nine clean sheets from its 32 games. The record is the ninth best in the division, while Newcastle's is the second worst with just five clean sheets.

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