This weekend will witness potentially the biggest and most important North East derby since the Premier League was formed. Newcastle United and Sunderland go into this weekend's tie knowing how important a victory is.
It doesn't take a die hard fan to realise that it's six wins on the spin for Sunderland in the derby. Newcastle have struggled in the big game under Alan Pardew, John Carver and Steve McClaren.
It is the time of the year in which Newcastle fans struggle to be optimistic and start panicking over what lies ahead. Things are changing on Tyneside but Sunderland sit outside the relegation zone which probably gives them the psychological edge in this fixture.
A seventh win in a row for the Black Cats could spell the end for Newcastle's survival mission.
Jermain Defoe has been in fantastic form this year and his goals at the start of 2016 have massively helped Sunderland.
The sharp shooting striker believes that, despite the plight of both clubs, Newcastle are the "ones under pressure" going into this weekend's fixture. The Sunderland ace went on to say he and his teammates "have to be confident" too, due to the way they have been playing lately.
Defoe, who scored a stunning goal in this fixture last year, insists it will be another "special occasion."
A new era
Newcastle do however, have a reason to be slightly more optimistic about this fixture due to the recent appointment of former Champions League winner Rafa Benitez.
The Spaniard lost his first game in charge away to Leicester City but can be forgiven about that result due to the position the Foxes find themselves in.
Sunday will be a big indicator as to whether Benitez can take a team of de-motivated players and keep them in the top flight. Sunderland and Sam Allardyce, meanwhile, will be hoping the game has come around too soon for Benitez to properly get his ideas across to the players.