Saturday, 6th December 2014; 15:00 GMT
Liverpool began their December campaign with the best possible start- a 3-1 win against Leicester in mid week. Rodgers` side welcome Sunderland to Anfield and will be hoping to make it 3 wins in a row for the first time this season
If last Saturday was a huge sigh of relief, then the midweek game against Leicester showed a sign of recovery. Brendan Rodgers would like to plot his side`s comeback to the top 4 by beating a beleaguered Sunderland side who were thoroughly outclassed at home by Manchester City.
With a crunch game against Basel on Tuesday which will decide Liverpool`s Champions League fate, Steven Gerrard’s selection would be the biggest headache that Rodgers would have. The Liverpool captain, in the wrong side of his 30s, proved against Leicester that he at least has two more years left in him with a man of the match performance. One would expect the Liverpool manager to keep his captain fresh for the Basel game which should see Gerrard dropping to the bench. Lucas, who has been doing a very good job of screening the defence since his comeback, is expected to keep his spot with Allen coming into the team to replace Gerrard.
Rickie Lambert, who has 2 goals and an assist in his last 4 appearances, should lead the line. The Englishman, despite his lack of mobility, is a big influence upfront and his hold up play brings the Liverpool midfield in play whilst in attack. The former Southampton man`s current form makes him a very important player and he will be aided by Sterling upfront.
The defence is obviously a concern and Simon Mignolet would be hoping to get his fourth clean sheet of the season. The Belgian`s holwer against Leicester summed up his poor season and he would be looking to make amends against the black cats. Martin Skrtel and Kolo Toure would be first choice to start as centre halves.
Probable line-up (4-4-2): Mignolet; Johnson, Skrtel, Toure, Moreno; Lucas, Henderson; Allen, Lallana; Sterling, Lambert;
Gus Poyet`s side have turned out to be the ‘draw specialists’ of this season with 8 of their 14 games turning out to be stale mates. The Uruguayan would want his team to exploit Liverpool`s shaky defence right from the offing and unsetlle the crowd. Sunderland would most probably follow the blue print of most visiting teams at Anfield this season i.e defend deep and hit Liverpool on the counter.
After the crushing 4-1 defeat at the hands of Manchester City, Poyet would want his players to put up a fight and they would be desperate to get something from the trip to Anfield. Connor Wickam is expected to start upfront with Steven Fletcher doubtful through an injury. Wes Brown and Adam Johnson are expected to return to the match day squad and Sebastian Coates has to sit out of this one as he is playing against his parent club. Cattermole, who has been in impressive form, will play his role as the destroyer and try to win the ball to launch counter attacks.
Probable line-up (4-1-4-1): Pantilimon; Vergini, Brown, O’Shea, Réveillère; Cattermole; Johnson, Rodwell, Buckley, Larsson; Wickham;
Liverpool 2-1 Sunderland
With two wins on the trot and the belief slowly flowing into the Anfield unit, Liverpool should see off this game against Sunderland and get the 3 points. There is a high possibility of this game going down to the wire and it all depends so much on who gets the early goal, and if Sunderland manage to score first, it would really put the cat among the pigeons and give us a really good game.
- Sunderland have not beaten Liverpool at Anfield since 1983.
- Liverpool have made 20 errors leading directly to a goal or attempt in the PL this season, more than any other side. (source: Opta)
- Liverpool have just kept 3 clean sheets this season.