• Manager to play three strikers at the Stadium of Light
• Pardew: 'We owe the fans for last season's derby defeat
Alan Pardew's rediscovery of his inner purist this season means he will field three strikers at the Stadium of Light on Sunday as Newcastle United attempt to exact revenge for Sunderland's 3-0 victory on Tyneside in April.
After topping last season's Premier League long ball charts, Newcastle are now playing a much more intricate passing game constructed around a 4-3-3 system. "I really think the team is in decent shape," says Pardew. "I've set it up in much more attacking mode with three strikers and will continue to do so regardless of who they are.
"I like the feel of this team – it's got goals. I'd like to lock up the back door a bit more but I'm not going to stray from what I think is the way forward for Newcastle and that's to try to score goals."
Hatem Ben Arfa impressed as a surprise choice in preference to the dropped Papiss Cissé in the centre of the attacking trinity during last week's 2-2 home draw with Liverpool and Pardew is tempted to repeat the experiment on Sunday. "If I were a centre‑half, Ben Arfa would scare the life out of me," he says.
Sunderland's position, bottom with only one point, concerns Newcastle's manager. "If they're in the same place in 10 games' time, it would disappoint me," he says.
"But it wouldn't disappoint me on Sunday, because I want to win so badly, not just for the team but for our fans, who we know we owe from the last game. Gus [Poyet] is a good manager though, who likes to play a passing game, and in 10 games' time I'd like to think Sunderland's position will improve. I think it's important for the area that both north-east clubs are strong."