The digital Wear-Tyne derby

Posted by Marc Duffy

GettyImages / Ian Horrocks/Newcastle United/Getty ImagesDemba Ba: Made Sundeland pay the ultimate penalty

I absolutely love derby week. I absolutely hate it, too. Does that even make sense? I love the emotion and the passion; the pride and the rivalry. I hate the nerves and the fact that, for a week, maybe even two weeks beforehand, I struggle to think of much else.

I'm a pessimist when it comes to football. This is probably down to the fact that in my 34 years Newcastle United have won precisely zero trophies. But then I (and I know a lot of you are the same) are guilty of only looking at derby situations from one perspective.

For example, this match worried me all week - we haven't been playing well at all, especially away from home. What I didn't think about until I played football against a mackem last night, is this game from their perspective. They've been playing poorly too. They are at home in front of their own fans and haven't beaten the Magpies in quite a while.

Incidentally, Sunderland haven't won a trophy in my lifetime either. There is far more pressure on them to win this game. Some of us aren't confident. Some of them aren't confident. And both sides have supporters who think that their team will walk it.

I spoke to a fellow Newcastle season ticket holder this morning and told him I'd take a draw here and now - he was having none of it. He is adamant that Newcastle have the team to go there and win the game and he is right. We do.

So how could we look at this from a neutral perspective? Players abilities not judged by us as fans, but by a third party? The answer: FIFA '13.

I asked a mackem what Sunderland's likely line-up would be on Sunday, wrote down what the Newcastle line-up could well be, set it up and let the game play. Here are the teams and in brackets their FIFA '13 ability rating at the time of doing this:

Sunderland: Mingolet (78), Bardsley (69), Rose (71), O'Shea (77), Cuellar (72), Gardner (72), Colback (73), Johnson (80), McClean (75), Sessegnon (82), Fletcher (79) Team total - 828 (average 75)

Newcastle: Krul (79), Simpson (76), Santon (75), Coloccini (81), Taylor (76), Tiote (82), Cabaye (81), Jonas (77), Hatem (83), Cisse (80), Ba (82) Team total - 872 (average 79)

So as rated by the information sources at EA, Newcastle have a far superior team. A look at last season’s league table backs this up, though Sunderland have added two good players in Johnson and Fletcher since then.

What happened in the FIFA '13 generated game? (No humans playing) Newcastle took the lead on 35 minutes. Hatem Ben Arfa skinned Cuellar who pulled him back in the penalty area. Cuellar was booked and Demba Ba converted the penalty. For the rest of the game Sunderland pressed but without any chances of note - just like in Newcastle's 1-0 down there last season. A 1-0 Newcastle win. The same result as in 2003 (Solano penalty) and 2011 (Ryan Taylor over the wall)

Yeah, yeah it's only a game, but I tell you what - I'd take that outcome on Sunday all day long!

Leave your predictions in the comments box below or give me a shout on twitter @MarcSDuffy

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