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SATURDAY SPOTLIGHT: The Northern Echo's combined Wear-Tyne derby day XI
Twelve months on, and ahead of tomorrow's Stadium of Light showdown between the North-East's big two, Scott Wilson and Paul Fraser have joined forces to see if his words have any truth to them.
If you were assembling a combined side from the players likely to be involved tomorrow, who would make the cut?
Keiren Westwood v Tim Krul
This is Westwood's first season as a Premier League number one. While his performances have included a number of brilliant saves, Sunderland's dreadful start to the campaign hardly gives him a glowing endorsement.
His saves at Swansea last weekend highlight the quality which has earned him international recognition with the Republic of Ireland.
But in Krul, Newcastle have a number one who has been consistent in the Premier League for three seasons now. He could still have a decade or more at the highest level in front of him.
A great shot stopper and commanding in his area, Krul looks certain to be between the posts for Holland at next summer's World Cup.
ECHO SAYS: Tim Krul
Ondrej Celustka v Mathieu Debuchy
While Celustka has started reasonably brightly since arriving on loan from Turkey, he is still not assured of his starting spot in the Sunderland team.
He likes to bomb forward and is capable of shooting from distance, while defensively he has been one of the Black Cats' better players so far this season.
Debuchy arrived in January with a greater reputation from his days with Lille and a greater price tag. He still plays for France, even if he has struggled to recapture his best form in a Newcastle shirt.
He looks weak defensively but does like to join in with the attacks and could provide a good outlet at the Stadium of Light.
ECHO SAYS: Mathieu Debuchy
John O'Shea v Mike Williamson
Alan Pardew has recalled Williamson to the heart of the Newcastle defence and his return has helped improve a leaky back line.
He might have his weaknesses, mainly staying tight to his man, but he is strong in the air and gives everything for the team.
But O'Shea has greater experience and is capable of being more consistent over a sustained period of time.
The former Manchester United skipper was handed the Sunderland captaincy in the summer and he needs to lead by example to get his side out of the mire they are in.
ECHO SAYS: John O'Shea
Wes Brown v Steven Taylor
If this was not Brown's latest attempt at a comeback after 18 months out of action then the Sunderland man would be another red-and-white pick.
A Champions League winner's medal from his days at Old Trafford highlights his quality and, at 33, he has the experience and ability to be exactly what Sunderland need.
Taylor, who has also had his fair share of injuries, has not spent anywhere near as long on the sidelines.
He loves a derby, has the sort of character every team should have in a derby line-up and is also capable of heading in the winner even if he possesses a mistake in his performance too.
ECHO SAYS: Steven Taylor
Jack Colback v Davide Santon
Gus Poyet has already said that he does not want Colback to play left-back, and the North-Easterner would prefer to play centre-midfield.
But after Phil Bardsley's horrible return to action at Swansea last weekend, Poyet is considering playing Colback in the back four again tomorrow.
He will run all day and track back, but unlike Santon he does not profess to play at full-back. The Italian can play across the back line, but has made the left-back slot his own at St James's Park.
He has defensive frailties, yet loves to join in with the attacks and his height gives him an edge aerially over many of the men he marks out wide.
ECHO SAYS: Davide Santon
Lee Cattermole v Cheik Tiote
This is one of the toughest match-ups of them all. Cattermole has shown in the past he knows exactly how to ruffle the Ivorian on derby day.
The Sunderland midfielder has the desire and commitment required for a Wear-Tyne meeting and he will be even more fired up tomorrow because he only recently returned to the fold.
If he can avoid being too rash and over-committed in the tackle then he could prove more beneficial over the 90 minutes than Tiote.
The Newcastle midfielder started the season poorly but is slowly showing signs of finding top gear again. If he can repeat his performance against Liverpool last weekend, then Cattermole will not have it easy.
ECHO SAYS: Lee Cattermole
Ki Sung-Yeung v Moussa Sissoko
Ki was the last of Sunderland's summer signings, moving on a season-long loan from Swansea on transfer-deadline day, and the South Korean is yet to make a real impression in the Black Cats' midfield.
He has tended to play in a deep role, although the return of Lee Cattermole should enable him to push further forward in an attempt to increase his influence on the game.
Sissoko can also play on the periphery of games, but since moving from Toulouse, the Frenchman has at least provided glimpses of real quality.
Strong and energetic, he also possesses a goal threat, as evidenced by last season's double against Chelsea. There's not a lot in it, but in this match up, he just gets the nod.
ECHO SAYS: Moussa Sissoko
Emanuele Giaccherini v Yohan Cabaye
Giaccherini has been the most successful of Sunderland's summer signings so far, with his three senior goals an impressive return given his side's struggles.
His direct running has caused problems down the left-hand side, while his willingness to cut in and play in a more central role makes him difficult for opposition defenders to pick up.
Cabaye started the season in disgrace as he attempted to force through a move to Arsenal, but his recent displays have enabled him to rebuild his reputation as one of the most talented central midfielders in the Premier League.
He scored a cracker at Everton, and followed it up with an even better long-range strike in last weekend's draw with Liverpool. He also scored the opener in last season's derby at the Stadium of Light.
ECHO SAYS: Yohan Cabaye
Adam Johnson v Yoan Gouffran
Johnson is arguably the most naturally talented player in the Sunderland squad, although he has only produced his best form in patches since returning to the North-East from Manchester City.
He tends to impress in the bigger games though, and was all but unplayable as Sunderland scored three goals without reply at St James' Park in April.
Gouffran's consistency makes him a valuable member of the Newcastle squad, and Alan Pardew has tended to use him more frequently in away matches as his work rate and commitment are useful assets.
Not as technically gifted as some of his fellow Frenchmen, he has still scored four goals since joining Newcastle, despite rarely playing as an out-and-out striker. Nevertheless, in terms of turning a game, Johnson is marginally the better bet.
ECHO SAYS: Adam Johnson
Jozy Altidore v Loic Remy
His work rate and hold-up play has been excellent, but it is impossible to ignore the fact that Altidore is still to score a Premier League goal in a Sunderland shirt.
The American also struggled to find the target during a previous loan spell with Hull, and is going to have to start finding the net soon if he is to continue justifying his place in Gus Poyet's team.
Remy, on the other hand, has been a revelation since joining Newcastle on loan from QPR, scoring five goals in the space of three games against Hull, Everton and Cardiff.
Adept at playing as a lone centre-forward, he has proved every bit as effective cutting in from the left-hand side, and he could well prove one of the signings of the summer.
ECHO SAYS: Loic Remy
Steven Fletcher v Hatem Ben Arfa
Fletcher's absence has been a key factor in Sunderland's struggles at the start of the season, with the Scotsman picking up a shoulder injury in only his third game back from a previous lay-off.
On last season's form, he is one of the most clinical finishers in the Premier League, but while he is likely to be crucial to his side's survival efforts, he is unlikely to be at his very best this weekend given the length of time he has spent on the sidelines.
Ben Arfa was also missing when Newcastle won at Cardiff, but he returned against Liverpool last weekend in an attacking role and is likely to retain his place tomorrow.
Defensively, he might have his weaknesses, but when it comes to scoring a goal from nothing and terrorising an opposition defence, Ben Arfa is the Magpies' game changer. On his day, he would get in most sides in the league.
ECHO SAYS: Hatem Ben Arfa
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