Analysis: Why it’s going to be Merry Christmas for Sunderland fans

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“JINGLE BELLS, jingle bells, jingle all the way, oh what fun it is to see Sunderland win away,” they chanted in delirium up in the St James’s Park gods.

It’s going be a very, very merry Christmas now.

This is the fixture which keeps on giving for Sunderland, but to record a fourth successive victory over Newcastle United, four days before Christmas, and in that manner...

Well, Sunderland obviously haven’t been on Santa’s naughty list.

A season which has been mundane for the majority of the last four months suddenly has lift-off.

It seemed like the chance had gone. There are misses, and then there are misses and Sunderland produced three howlers - Connor Wickham heading wide from a yard out, Jordi Gomez spooning a shot wide with the goal at his mercy and Adam Johnson side-footing wide of the far post.

But a game which Newcastle also seemed determined not to win, after a couple of poor misses and a couple of excellent saves from Costel Pantilimon, was always going to be a case of ‘next goal wins’ when an absorbing encounter entered the final 20 minutes.

Sunderland grabbed it before it was too late; ensuring there wouldn’t be yet another draw or yet another stalemate.

Johnson again proved to be the thorn in Newcastle’s side with his third in as many games at St James’s Park and he deserves enormous credit not just for the finish, but with the manner in which he broke with such determination from a corner.

But there were heroes all over in red and white.

Seb Larsson was once again immense in the middle of the park and largely negated any threat from Jack Colback.

Until Moussa Sissoko came alive midway through the second half, Newcastle struggled in that area after their early onslaught in the opening 10 minutes.

But perhaps the most credit has to go to John O’Shea and Sebastian Coates.

The loss of Anthony Reveillere in the warm-up was a cruel one for the ex-France international and left Gus Poyet with a major headache.

It was a big decision to break up the partnership of O’Shea and Wes Brown, but the captain never looked worried at left-back, while Sebastian Coates grew and grew as the encounter wore on.

After a nervy start, the on-loan Liverpool man emphatically demonstrated his worth, particularly when Newcastle had a 10-minute or so spell when they put Sunderland under the cosh in the second half.

Sunderland needed a hero at the other end though and they got it.

Johnson’s goal sparked huge celebrations on the Sunderland bench and they continued long, long after the final whistle blown.

There were a couple of “Klinsmann dives” for the benefit of the buoyant away end during the warm-down afterwards, before Poyet came out to pump his fists.

The celebrations won’t stop either. They will continue on Wearside throughout this festive period.