JERMAIN DEFOE insists Newcastle United will be feeling the heat more than Sunderland ahead of the Wear-Tyne derby, despite the Black Cats’ relegation worries.
Sunderland could find themselves sitting in the drop zone by kick-off against Newcastle United on Sunday, with third bottom Burnley facing the opportunity to overhaul the one-point gap with the Black Cats earlier in the afternoon.
But even though Sunderland are teetering on the brink of falling into the bottom three and have managed just one league win in 2015, derby debutant Defoe believes there is even more pressure on the Magpies this weekend, due to the Black Cats’ recent dominance in the fixture.
Sunderland could match the record five successive wins set by Newcastle nine years ago if they triumph again on Sunday and Defoe believes that will be looming large in the minds of John Carver’s side.
“I think the pressure’s on them to win,” said Defoe.
“If you turn it around and they’d beaten us four times, we’d be going into this thinking if they beat us again, that’s five games. I believe they have to come out and try to make something happen.
“I suppose there’s pressure on both teams really because it’s not a normal game.
“This is THE game the fans look forward to when the fixtures come out.
“So yes, it is a lot of pressure, but we know the reward is so big and the points are so important that you just give everything.
“I hope we start quick, because that’s important, and then get the goals we deserve.”
Defoe is a veteran of North London derbies after spending nine years at Spurs during two spells at White Hart Lane.
But the 32-year-old is clearly licking his lips at the prospect of making his Wear-Tyne derby bow, even though he realises the importance of not being overawed by the occasion.
“I think this one’s a special one and I really want to win it,” added the England international.
“If you score in the derby, especially if you win one, no-one can take that away from you.
“The lads have got a great record against Newcastle. Being at home, I can imagine the fans can’t wait.
“The Stadium’s going to be electric. I just hope we get off to a good start, with a lot of energy – like we did against West Ham – and then make sure we score if we get the chances.
“When I was younger in the derbies with Tottenham and Arsenal, you got that feeling in the morning of the game.
“But it’s important to try to relax and treat it like any other game.
“You have to forget about Newcastle, the fans, because it can make it too tense and you might do things that you don’t normally do in a game.
“You just focus on what you need to do to help the team win the game.”