Derbies are main reason Sunderland are still Premier League club – and we MUST win again

Jermain Defoe celebrates last season's derby winner
Jermain Defoe celebrates last season's derby winner
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The Wear-Tyne derby has enough pressure, nerves and tension riding on it, but the desperate plight Sunderland find themselves in makes it a game we just can’t afford to lose.

The Wear-Tyne derby has enough pressure, nerves and tension riding on it, but the desperate plight Sunderland find themselves in makes it a game we just can’t afford to lose.

Nothing changes the mood and restores confidence like a derby win

A draw wouldn’t be a particularly good result either. It’s as near a must-win game as you can have at this stage of the campaign, so no pressure there then!

The derby games have been good to us over recent seasons – they’re the main reason we’re still a Premier League club – and that run has to continue or we’re in danger of being cut adrift with our chances of staying up becoming even more desperate.

That’s why it’s got to be a good time to be playing our biggest rivals.

Despite Newcastle getting their first win on Sunday, they are not that far in front of us and nothing changes the mood and restores confidence like a derby win.

My memories of last season’s 1-0 win are still fresh, Jermain Defoe’s wonder goal, a clean sheet and every player giving everything, but most of all an electric atmosphere that inspired the team and had Sky pundit Thierry Henry raving about it.

The fans as always, on these occasions, will be just as important again and if they see the players with the same passion and love for the shirt that they have, they’ll be supported from first minute to last.

Newcastle getting their first win, while we’re still searching for ours, has probably put them in a better place mentally than, so it’s vitally important that we start well and take the initiative early on.

The last thing Sunderland need is to be chasing the game, so I expect Big Sam to set his team up with numbers in midfield and if Yann M’Vila and Lee Cattermole can control that key area, that could decide the outcome of the game.

Derbies are all about the result, nothing else matters, and the players should remind themselves that they’ve proved they can handle the occasion and get the job done.

We’re not quite in the last chance saloon yet, but these opportunities are fast running out.

We’ve had a number of them so far without taking advantage, so Sunday, in our biggest game of the season, would be a great time to start.