Stormy seas in the North East: Crunch time for Middlesbrough, Hull, Sunderland and Newcastle
22 May 2009 12:40
This weekend, two of the four Premier League clubs in the North East of England will be relegated to the Championship.
Teesside, Tyneside, Wearside and Humberside are all in danger of losing their top-flight status - and the nightmare will become a reality at 6pm on Sunday.
The final day of the season is about much more than local bragging rights - it's about survival. But how did it all come down to this?
Sunderland currently hold the strongest position of the quartet - victory over Chelsea at the Stadium of Light would guarantee their safety - and it is interesting to note that Ricky Sbragia's men have the most impressive record against their relegation rivals this season.
Here Sportsmail looks at how the Black Cats, Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Hull (an honorary member of the north-east patch) have fared against each other.
Final countdown: (from left to right) Alan Shearer, Gareth Southgate, Ricky Sbragia and Phil Brown face a nerve-wracking afternoon on Sunday
Djibril Cisse scores for Sunderland against Hull earlier this season
P6 W4 D2 L0
Win percentage 67
Points against relegation rivals: 14
Percentage of total points against relegation rivals: 39
Goals for: 11
Goals against: 4
Sunderland are the north-east bully boys and are unbeaten against their 'local' rivals in 2008-09. Ricky Sbragia's side have taken 39 per cent of their Premier League points against Hull, Newcastle and Boro, winning all three home games and thrashing the Tigers 4-1 at the KC Stadium on December 20.
Victories against teams around them in the table could prove essential to Sunderland's survival as the Black Cats have failed to win against any of the 'Big Four' in seven attempts this season.
Could it be eighth time lucky against Chelsea on Sunday? Sunderland's destiny is in their own hands.
Marlon King scores from the penalty spot for Hull against Newcastle
P6 W2 D1 L3
Win percentage 33
Points against relegation rivals: 7
Percentage of total points against relegation rivals: 20
Goals for: 7
Goals against: 11
The Tigers' record against Boro, Newcastle and Sunderland reflects the way their season has unravelled. A 2-1 win at St James' Park in September was followed by a 2-1 victory over Boro at the KC Stadium in December, but that was the last time City have beaten anyone in the league at home this season.
A 4-1 thrashing by Sunderland followed a fortnight later and started City's decline. But the Tigers' season has been saved by their performances against the teams at towards the top of the Premier League.
They have the fourth best record in the division against the 'Big Four' - bettered only by Spurs, Fulham and Aston Villa - and would dearly love three points against Manchester United at the weekend.
Newcastle's Peter Lovenkrands celebrates his goal against Middlesbrough recently
P6 W1 D3 L2
Win percentage 17
Points against relegation rivals: 6
Percentage of total points against relegation rivals: 18
Goals for: 7
Goals against: 7
Just one win for the Magpies against their north-east rivals this season, but what a valuable victory it could turn out to be. Alan Shearer's first three points as Newcastle manager were all the more vital as they came against Middlesbrough in a relegation six-pointer.
Less than 20 percent of the Magpies' points have come against the three teams around them in the league and it has left them with everything to do on Sunday.
P6 W1 D2 L3
Win percentage 17
Points against relegation rivals: 5
Percentage of total points against relegation rivals: 16
Goals for: 6
Goals against: 9
Gareth Southgate's side have scored just six goals in six 'derby' games this season - and three of them came at the Riverside against Hull City in April.
Boro have the worst record of the four north-east clubs, having managed just one win and two draws in six attempts, and relegation looks imminent, if not mathematically certain just yet.
Remaining fixtures (all 4pm on Sunday):
Aston Villa v Newcastle
Hull City v Man Utd
Sunderland v Chelsea
West Ham v Middlesbrough