James McClean has been a revelation since the arrival of O'Neill.

The Cutter’s North-East correspondent Susan Jardine looks ahead to a weekend of FA Cup hangovers and a second bite at the Cherries.

Well it has been a very quiet week in football with only the England manager disagreeing with a decison about team captaincy which ultimately led to his resignation.

But let’s put all of that to one side as events on the pitch take precedence this weekend and with all of the North Eastern teams back in league action this weekend a look at the fixtures has thrown up some interesting clashes.

Top of the bill must be Newcastle who visit White Hart Lane to face Tottenham. For one reason or another one Harry Redknapp has not been out of the spotlight this week. Firstly there was the conclusion to his trial on charges of alleged tax evasison of which he was acquitted. And then he was plunged into the rat race of speculation about him being a possible successor to Fabio Capello as England manager.

Of course also mentioned as a candidate was Alan Pardew, and Newcastle fans are no doubt breathing a huge sigh of relief after the Toon manager ruled himself out of the running. So with Newcastle going for a hat trick of Premier League wins the prospect of Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse bearing down on Tottenham centre halves is highly intriguing. Tottenham too though have a a few match winners in their ranks, one Gareth Bale to name but one. However the Londoners gained only one point on their visit to Anfield earlier this week in a match that was hardly the cats whiskers. In fact the aformentioned moggy who wandered on to the pitch at Liverpool may have been rather more entertaining than what was served up by both sides on Monday night.

Newcastle though have injury worries as Ryan Taylor is ruled out with a leg injury sustained against Aston Villa, Cheick Tiote is still away on Africa Cup of Nations duty so Hatem Ben Arfa and James Perch are both likely to feature in midfield as Yohan Cabaye serves the last of a three match ban. Tottenham too have their issues with Younis Kaboul, Aaron Lennon and Rafael van der Vaart all doubtful.

So it remains to be seen which manager will be purring after this clash. My prediction is a 1-1 draw.

Sunderland’s task looks a stiff one to say the least.

The other halves of the North Eastern and North London rivals meet at the Stadium of Light as Sunderland face Arsenal. The Black Cats who squeezed through in the FA Cup on Wednesday night after an extra time victory over Middlesbrough face an Arsenal side who seem to have found their balance as of late. Theo Walcott laid on the first of the seven goals against Blackburn last Saturday while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain hit the back of the net too. Throw in the hat trick that Robin van Persie hammered in past the helpless Blackburn goalkeeper and Sunderland’s task looks a stiff one to say the least.

But the Black Cats have unearthed a gem of their own in James McClean, who ran through the Stoke defence to score the only goal of the game at the Brittania Stadium last weekend. Getting round the Arsenal defence may well be a harder proposition but Martin O’Neil has instilled a steely resolve into Sunderland and I think they will be a tough test for Arsenal, despite their injury worries. Lee Cattermole,Wes Brown and David Vaughan remain on the sidelines. Both sides are in good form as well so something has to give, and I think it will be Arsenal who leave with the points.

To Teeside and Middlesbrough who have seen their FA Cup dreams end at the hands of Sunderland now have to lift themselves as they face a tricky trip to Portman Road to face Ipswich Town. From a promising start Boro have yet to win a league match this calendar year and their last victory came on Boxing Day against Hull. The task facing Tony Mowbray is one where he will have to lift his side after the disappointing exit from the FA Cup. To make matters worse he has an ever growing list of players on the treatment table. Ipswich though have the worst defensive record in the championship and have leaked 57 goals so far. In those circumstances I am going for a draw!

Much of course to the delight of one Jeff Stelling who was celebrating in style.

Into League 1 and two sides with impressive recent form meet at Victoria Park as Hartlepool entertain Bournemouth. Following the return of Neale Cooper as manager Pools saw off Rochdale at the Vic and gained a point apeice at Exeter and at Hillsborough. A 4-0 demolition job of Carlisle on home turf saw Hartlepool move into the top ten of League 1. Victory over Bournemouth will extend their unbeaten streak to five matches. Neale Cooper has a plethora of young talent at his disposal, with Luke James already hitting the target. But youth is combined with experience in the shape of Anthony Sweeney and James Brown who have both marked their return to action with goals. Much of course to the delight of one Jeff Stelling who was celebrating in style on a certain TV show.

Hartlepool had two bites of the Cherries earlier this season when they won 2-1 at Dean Court and Bournemouth while boosted with Matt Tubbs will be looking to erase the memories of their last home match against struggling Chesterfield when the Spireites won 2-1. So the match represents the proverbial banana skin for both teams. Hartlepool should win but as I am filing match reports from it I am prepared for Pools to slip up at home.

But the scary thought for all fans is that once February becomes March is that the season is drawing to a close. This is when issues affecting one’s teams begin to be resolved and while some maybe getting the road map and passports sorted out for European Competition others are checking for how to get to midweek games at places such as Bury and Yeovil.

But let’s face it we go through it every season and I doubt very much if any self respecting football fan would have it any other way.

Have a good weekend everyone!