In a season which has witnessed lesser-known clubs such as Leicester City, Spurs and West Ham give England’s historically elite clubs a run for their money, Sunderland and Newcastle have surely disappointed one and all. As another exhilarating season of the Barclays Premier League nears its end, there is a strong possibility that these two clubs will not feature in the next edition of the league.
Sunderland A.F.C and Newcastle United currently take up consecutive spots low in the league table. They are languishing in the relegation zone, at the 18th and 19th positions respectively. Newcastle, especially, are a pale shadow of the fear-inducing Alan Shearer-side of the early 2000’s. Sunderland, on the other hand, are now easy fodder to teams who are desperately hungry for 3 points. Both teams have hardly given any tough competition to any side throughout the season.
Sunderland were last relegated from the EPL at the end of the 2005-06 season while Newcastle were last relegated at the end of the 2008-09 season. Head-to-Head, Sunderland have been the better team this season, winning 3-0 against Newcastle at home in the early part of the season and drawing 1-1 in the reverse fixture.
The defensive lineups of both these teams have struggled throughout the season. For Sunderland, the likes of O’Shea and Brown have hardly lived up to their expectations while for Newcastle, defenders like Coloccini and Janmaat have shown dismal performance throughout the season.
As for the performance in the midfield, it has been nothing short of pathetic. Larsson, Cattermole, Rodwell have been below their standards for Sunderland. Newcastle have a more established midfield with the likes of Sissoko, Tiote,Wijnaldum, Shelvey and Townsend. Yet,apart from Wijnaldum, they have surprisingly given egregious performances.
In front of the goal, Jermain Defoe has been the lone performer for Sunderland, scoring 12 goals whereas Lens, Borini, N’Doye and Khazri have scored scantily. For Newcastle, Papiss Cisse has failed miserably while Mitrovic and Ayoze Perez have not risen to the occasion in times of need.
The managers too failed at getting the best of these teams, who certainly have the capability to perform better than what they have done so far. Sunderland’s performance has been on a downslide since the sacking of Gus Poyet, with both Dick Advocaat and the current manager Sam Allardyce barely doing anything that enables the team to win. Newcastle appointing Rafa Benitez had been a surprise, but he hasn’t done anything which the previous manager Steve McClaren couldn’t do, as he is yet to register a win.
Sunderland is 4 points behind the team at the 17th position while Newcastle is 6 points adrift. The former face four teams from the top 10 in the remaining matches which include Arsenal and a rejuvenated Chelsea. Newcastle have to lock horns against three teams of the top 10 including Spurs, Manchester City and Liverpool in their remaining matches.
Under these circumstances, the chances of these teams staying in the top flight of English football for the next season seem thinner than a piece of paper. To EPL fans all around the world, it appears that they have seen the last of the North-Eastern Derby for the time being. Championship fans, you could get another derby to look forward to!