Michael Owen has given his verdict on Newcastle v Sunderland.

The former Newcastle striker reckons that it is difficult to remember a north east derby match with so much at stake.

Michael Owen saying that there ‘couldn’t be a bigger occasion’ for the new manager to make his home debut.

Owen actually was unbeaten in derby matches when at St James Park and boasted a 100% home record over the course of four years.

Sadly, his derby appearances sum up his overall contribution to Newcastle United – did quite decent when he played but that wasn’t very often.

Michael Owen only featured twice for Newcastle against Sunderland, scoring both goals on 20 April 2008 in a 2-0 win at St James Park.

Whilst earlier that season, he also turned out in the 1-1 draw on Wearside – James Milner scoring the equaliser and earning Newcastle a point.

In the relegation season which followed, Michael Owen managed to miss both derbies, despite featuring in 28 of the 38 Premier League matches that season.

Owen predicts though Rafa Benitez to pick up his first win on Sunday, something that would obviously be a massive boost for Newcastle’s survival hopes – let’s hope Michael Owen is right for a change…

Michael Owen writing for BetVictor:

“It is hard to remember a Tyne-Wear derby with more at stake and there quite frankly couldn’t be a bigger occasion for Rafa Benitez to make a debut in front of the Newcastle home faithful.

“Both sides are currently odds-on to be relegated at the end of the season and it remains likely that two from the three of Sunderland, Newcastle and Norwich will be playing Championship football next term.

“The Black Cats arrive at St James Park having won the last 6 meetings between the two sides but fancied to struggle at the weekend with the Magpies chanced to give Rafa a perfect start to life in the St James Park dug-out.”