Despite coverage littered with every possible cliché about passion and pride, today’s Tyne/Weir derby was not a great spectacle for the footballing purist. Fabio Borini’s excellent winner separated the two sides, after Mathieu Debuchy cancelled out Steven Fletcher’s headed opener, in a turgid game largely played out in the air.
Newcastle shaded their neighbours in possession, keeping hold of the ball for 51% of the game. They also attempted more shots. However the Magpies strikeforce were peppering row Z rather than the goal, and only managed four shots on target from 16 attempts. Both side’s had pass completion rates that can only be described as tragic. Sunderland’s 67% pass completion was the lowest of any team in the Premier League so far this weekend, whilst Newcastle’s 73% wasn’t much better.
A blood and thunder clash, both sides made the prerequisite number of fouls for a local derby.
Man of the match: Fabio Borini
In what is perhaps a mark of how dire the game was, our man of the match as measured by Squawka performance score was match winner Fabio Borini. Despite only replacing Adam Johnson in the 68th minute, the Liverpool loanee’s superb strike ensured that he notched the highest performance score, in a game in which no other player really shone.
Newcastle came in to the game in form, and eager to avenge the 3-0 defeat in last Di Canio derby, but disappointed for large parts of the game. Sunderland took an early lead through Fletcher, and were comfortably ahead of Newcastle in performance score for the first hour of the game. Debuchy’s goal prompted a resurgence of sorts, and a twenty minute period of nip and tuck followed in our performance score comparisons. However Borini’s strike ensured the points stayed in Sunderland, as the Black Cats saw the game out with relative ease.
The two sides posted two of the lowest three pass accuracies in the Premier League this weekend - in large part due to the long ball nature of the game. Sunderland’s average pass was 22m long – the highest in the division. The home side ensured that the game was played on their terms, having set up with Jozy Altidore and Fletcher up front. Pardew was naïve in starting Hatem Ben Arfa up front in a game that was always going to be direct, and rectified his mistake with the half time introduction of Pappis Cisse.
The pass map above shows all of Sunderland’s long balls and headed passes, and is far busier than expected of the average Premier League game.
This directness was replicated by Newcastle, which conspired to produce a game with a staggering 53 headed duals. More than double the number of headed duals in the Liverpool v West Brom fixture (25), Sunderland won 45% of them and Newcastle 55%.