March 26, 2014; 20:00 GMT
Like Glen Johnson recently said, neutral supporters do want to see Liverpool lift the Premier League title. This is mainly because football fans have observed that Liverpool now play with a certain panache and that the club has struggled too much in the recent years and now deserves the fruits of working hard and coming out of that transition phase with grace.
The Reds go into this match with a 6-3 win over Cardiff City. A high-scoring match, with Luis Suarez getting a hat-trick, Daniel Sturridge getting a goal and Martin Skrtel scoring his second brace of this season, Liverpool put on an entertaining show and yet again enthralled watchers with their attacking game. However, the three goals they let in cheaply also talks of the work that still needs to be done.
Sunderland have not won their last four Premier League games, and are entering this match after the 2-0 defeat by Norwich City. Morales have certainly taken a blow and Gus Poyet needs his men to get back to winning ways and try to get the three points against Rodger’s Red Crusade.
Liverpool- Team News, Tactics and Predicted Line-Ups
Liverpool can finally field a preferred side as the club as no new injury to worry about and Lucas and Mamadou Sakho are both back and both the players featured on the bench for the Reds against Cardiff, with Sakho even getting a feel of the pitch, albeit in final stoppage time.
Brendan Rodgers does however face one major dilemma- Steven Gerrard has picked up nine yellow cards and one more would mean that he would be suspended for two games. Gerrard’s new role of a holding midfielder or a deep lying playmaker involves more tackling and it is safe to say that the club captain has mistimed a few. Liverpool face Tottenham after Sunderland and then Manchester City on 9th April. Rodgers would have to see if he would want to risk the talismanic player, one who has grabbed nine assists and scored ten goals this season.
The rest remains the usual. The Kop will get behind Liverpool and make sure Sunderland don’t have a good outing in Merseyside. However, Liverpool’s defensive vulnerability is something that the Black Cats can benefit from, as has happened many times with the second placed Reds this season. Brendan Rodgers would have spoken to his players after the three goals they conceded against Cardiff City on the weekend and shown his concern in this regard. Liverpool’s defence needs to be tightened and Mamadou Sakho, who would probably be preferred, would need to have a great comeback game.
Liverpool have been playing a three man midfield, or the diamond, of late and it has been working well for them. Playing Allen and benching either Coutinho or Sterling gives the Reds some stability in the field. Allen is in good touch and the Liverpool boss would make sure he uses the ex-Swansea player’s good form now.
Predicted Line-up (4-4-2) : Mignolet; Johnson, Skrtel, Sakho, Flanagan; Gerrard, Henderson, Allen, Sterling; Suarez, Sturridge
Sunderland- Team News, Tactics and Predicted Line-up
Gus Poyet will not have the liberty to play one of his favored players in this match- Fabio Borini misses out as he is ineligible to play against his parent club. The Liverpool on-loan forward has enjoyed quite a fruitful spell away from Anfield and has six goals and three assists to his name in all competitions. Poyet will also not have young defender Marcos Alonso who faces suspension after getting a red card in the 2-0 defeat against Norwich.
Sunderland will have to make sure they keep Liverpool quiet in the first half. If the visitors can so so before the interval, they stand a chance of going home with something. Gus Poyet’s men can look up to Aston Villa for example. Paul Lambert’s team played a high line against the Reds at Anfield and made sure they didn’t lose out when Liverpool countered them. Sunderland will have to do the same. Liverpool are probably the most devastating when it comes to counter-attacking and have considerable attacking prowess with the likes of Suarez, Sturridge and Sterling.
Sunderland will look to resurgent winger Adam Johnson to help their cause. Johnson needs to give the Liverpool defenders trouble with his movement forward. The home side have the best attack at the moment, but everyone knows that they are not doing well defensively. The 26 year old should make sure he supplies the forwards with enough crosses and through balls and finds space himself to find the back of the net.
Sunderland are currently sitting in the seventeenth position and would definitely be afraid of relegation. The side is three points behind sixteenth placed Crystal Palace, but to their advantage, also have two games in hand. The Black Cats will have to make sure they turn up their game and get something positive from the match. They would be looking to stop Liverpool’s six match unbeaten run in the League.
Probable Line-up: Mannone; Dosenna , Beardsly, O’Shea, Brown; Bridcutt, Ki, Larsson; Johnson, Socco, Altidore
- After missing out on the first five games, and after the hat-trick against Cardiff, Luis Suarez now has 28 goals in the league. Sunderland have scored 26 goals so far.
- The last time Sunderland beat Liverpool at Anfield was in 1983.
- Gus Poyet has a 44.84% win ratio with Sunderland. He has faced 30 matches as manager of the club.
Player to watch out for: Luis Suarez
‘Just Can’t Get Enough’- the famous Luis Suarez chant that the supporters make sure echos in all stadiums. The Uruguayan would be a tough man to contain having scored a hat-trick against Cardiff City. Suarez went through a patch of games where he was not netting the ball, but now is back in his goal-scoring ways. Not only that, the 27 year old’s chemistry with Daniel Sturridge is something Sunderland will have to be beware of as he teams up regularly with his English counter-part and makes sure the goals keep on coming, one way or the other. Sunderland will have to make sure they don’t let Suarez find space to work his way through defenders and score easy goals. If the goals are imminent, at least Suarez’s job should be harder.
Match Prediction: 3-1
A Sunderland victory at Anfield looks very unlikely. Liverpool are undefeated in the league in 2014, only lost one game at Anfield all season and they have won their previous 6 games. Expect a similar outcome with Suarez probably getting a brace and Sturridge making sure he keeps his goals ticking as well. Sunderland will probably get in a goal as the Reds have been weak defensively and oppositions have been able to get at least one goal against the side.
Blast From the Past
Top Image Courtesy: www.lfootball.ru