MOUSSA Sissoko is in the form of his life at Newcastle United – and he has challenged his team-mates to play the game of their lives against Sunderland.
The Magpies’ players are under no illusions about the importance of the Tyne-Wear derby after three successive defeats in the fixture, according to Sissoko.
Alan Pardew’s side take on Newcastle’s fierce rivals in the Premier League at St James’s Park on Sunday (1.30pm).
And the stakes couldn’t be higher, with Pardew having last season become the first manager to preside over three straight derby losses.
“We know Sunday is a big game for us and for the city,” said Sissoko.
Eighth-placed Newcastle – and especially Pardew – cannot afford another defeat.
In-form Sissoko has shrugged off the knock which forced him off in midweek against Tottenham and is fit to face Gus Poyet’s Black Cats.
And the midfielder says Newcastle must forget about the 4-0 Capital One Cup defeat at White Hart Lane – and give everything in a fixture in which the team has been found wanting in recent years.
“You have to forget the 4-0 defeat against Tottenham and try to be ready for the Sunderland match, because it is massive for us,” said Sissoko.
“We will be ready for Sunday, and we know that we haven’t been good enough in the recent games against them.
“Every derby we aim to win. We lost last time, but Sunday is another game and we will try to win it and play well.
“I can assure the supporters we know what it means.
“Every player is ready. We will be focused on ready for the match because it’s massive.”
Asked about the kick which forced him off, he added: “It’s OK. It’s just a kick on the knee. I saw the doctor – I will be ready for Sunday.”