Sunderland's aim of the season was to finish top 10. Newcastle's was to stay up. Now, in time these change. Due to progresses throughout the season the Toon have managed to far exceed expectations, whereas Sunderland have done the opposite (although they still can reach the top 10).
Steve Bruce has urged the fans and players that their aim is now to beat their rivals, but it is Newcastle in the driving seat coming into the last game of the season. Newcastle (12th) and Sunderland (14th) have been neck and neck the last month and a half or so, but it could've been over ages ago. With just a single point between the two North East teams, yet Newcastle having a far superior goal difference, It's certaintly going to be a close one. A win at Bolton for the Mackems gave them spirit which had been lost in recent months, but this has vanished after being overturned by the lowly Wolverhampton.
As said before, it's surprising that the last match of the season will determine who'll finish above who. Sunderland were flying high in December, reaching 6th and a European spot within reach. This of course coming off the back of a 5-1 thrashing to the hands of the Magpies themselves on Halloween. Of course, many were shocked.
With Sunderland 6th, Newcastle were 12 points behind and therefore the Black Cats were seeming to run away from their rivals. However, disaster struck Sunderland for the second time in two seasons, with a winless streak from February, lasting 9 games (with 8 of them losses). This lack of confidence diminished faith within the Sunderland camp, and they've duly paid the price.
Newcastle have hada bumpy road this season. At times they've beaten teams 5-0, 6-0, 5-1, 4-1, but then again they also lose to similar scorelines. After Hughton got sacked many fans dreaded the appointment of Pardew. However, the 3-1 victory over Liverpool did the job. Even after Carroll left in January for a whopping £35million, they've still been able to score goals. However, they're also known for being incompetent.
So, here we are. One match left. Newcastle with a points lead and a superior goal difference, meaning Sunderland have to win and Newcastle lose or draw for the Black Cats fans to be jubiliant. With Sunderland playing the already relegated West Ham, and the Toon against West Brom, the Mackems will seem the favourites in their match, whilst the Toon may struggle. But with recent form this could be different. I know a lot of Sunderland fans who were banging on about their last 8 'easy' run in, saying points would fly from everywhere. But only 2 of those were won, making 6 points in an 'easy' 24. The Toon have played well at St James' Park, but are also inconsistant. This will be a very interesting last match day.
Who do you think will finish above? And what will the results be on the day? Leave your comments below.