Rafa Benitez and Sam Allardyce's feud set to reignite ahead of huge Tyne-Wear derby

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Newcastle United and Sunderland face each other on Sunday in what is set to be the biggest Tyne-Wear derby in recent memory; passion will be running high both on the pitch and amongst the crowd in what is a must-win contest for both sides.

However, away from the fierce battle set to ensue on the field an intriguing match up will take place on the sidelines, with Rafa Benitez and Sam Allardyce due to renew their long-standing rivalry.

Some ten years ago, the latter was Bolton manager and inflicted Benitez's first defeat as Liverpool boss. The Spaniard was a newcomer to English football at this point and was naturally taken aback by the Wanderers' physical approach - and the rivalry was born.


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Allardyce has since played the provocateur when it comes to his Spanish counterpart - he accused Benitez of being lucky to win the 2005 Champions League, doubted his credentials to win the Premier League and criticised him for refusing to shake hands following a Liverpool win in 2009.

In response, Benitez has alluded to the fact 'Big Sam' has never won a trophy in his managerial career and that his teams play in a more rubust and bullyish fashion than technical.

The pair's overall head-to-head record sees Benitez with seven victories to his name, four more than Allardyce's three.

Their rivalry only serves to add greater importance to an already colossal fixture. Sunderland are currently one point ahead of their rivals on 25 and sit just above the relegation zone.

And with 16th-place Swansea City sprinting clear of danger on 33 points, two of the Black Cats, Newcastle and Norwich City appear likely to join Aston Villa in relegation.

Victory for Benitez's Magpies would see them buck a woeful recent trend of not having beaten their rivals in the last eight fixtures, losing the previous six in a row, and kickstarting the Spaniard's rein at St James' Park.

Sunday's clash represents a rivalry of raw passion and desire, especially so given the managers involved. Premier League status could well be determined by victory, and whilst Benitez and Allardyce's feud might not carry the same weight of Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger's, there's little doubt a win would mean far more than a mere three points and survival.

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Alan Shearer
Premier League
Jermain Defoe
Europa League
Newcastle United

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