Liverpool were held to a frustrating 2-2 draw against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
Daniel Sturridge opened the scoring with an opportunistic header before Liverpool conceded a soft penalty which Jermain Defoe duly converted.
Sadio Mane then added a second, before giving away yet another penalty for hand-ball. Defoe made no mistake yet again, allowing Sunderland to hold on for a draw and snatch an unlikely point from Jurgen Klopp’s men.
The German will be very disappointed with the nature of the goals conceded, as Liverpool were dominant throughout the game and should not have conceded at all. Neither were really down to defensive errors that Liverpool have been slightly prone to, but that won’t matter to David Moyes’ men as any point they can get is precious at this stage.
Sturridge gets goals, but gets injured again
Daniel Sturridge left the game having to be supported by two of Liverpool’s medical staff, hopping gingerly on one foot with an ice-pack on his leg. The extent of the injury is not known just yet, but this is a typical story for Liverpool. Sturridge comes into the side and instantly makes a difference, popping up with important goals but simply cannot be relied on to stay fit for an entire season.
The Englishman’s predatory header opened the scoring and showed that even when Sturridge is not pulling off brilliant goals as we know he can, he is able to score opportunistic goals like the one he did against Sunderland. Divock Origi had done nothing wrong to be dropped, but such is Sturridge’s quality that it is hard not to play him when he is fit.
It does beg the question of whether constantly disrupting the side’s chemistry by including the striker in the starting line-up is detrimental. Origi had been in fine form for Liverpool before Sturridge’s return, and if his injury keeps him out again, the player will slot back into the side. This time, it may be better for Jurgen Klopp to leave him there.
Sadio Mane will be missed
Sadio Mane now heads off to the African Cup of Nations with Senegal, having scored in his final game for Liverpool before heading to the tournament. Mane was always a threat even during tonight’s match and Liverpool will sorely miss the midfielder’s unpredictable, explosive nature. He is going to be a big miss over the next few weeks.
Mane has been a key part of Liverpool’s brilliance over the campaign and he is exactly the kind of player that Jurgen Klopp adores. Not only is Mane capable of creating magic on his own with his pace and dribbling ability, he has formed a great partnership with his fellow attacking players and has been one of the stand-out players this season.
There was one negative today, though, as it was his inexplicable hand-ball that gifted Sunderland a second penalty which Defoe expertly put away. Still, Liverpool fans will be quick to forgive him for his one moment of stupidity today as he has been unplayable at times for the Reds.
Sadio Mane is now Liverpool’s top scorer in the Premier League this season with 9 goals. Signing of the season.
— DaveOCKOP (@DaveOCKOP) January 2, 2017
Vito Mannone was Sunderland’s best player
Vito Mannone was one of the main reasons Sunderland managed to hold on for two points today. The former Arsenal goalkeeper only came back into the side after Jordan Pickford’s unfortunate injury, but Pickford was not missed at all today as Mannone bossed the goal and did everything he could to keep Liverpool at bay.
Mannone made a massive 13 saves and could do nothing about either of Liverpool’s goals. Several times Mannone managed to hold onto crosses into the box under pressure from Liverpool players, and there is no doubt that he will be one of the strongest candidates for man of the match following the game.
Vito Mannone made more saves today than he has all season
— Ricky Mann (@RickyMann4) January 2, 2017
Liverpool cannot drop points like this if they want to win the league
Jurgen Klopp was rightly pleased after Liverpool defeated Manchester City over the weekend, but his words about keeping ,pace with Chelsea despite their juggernaut-like winning streak have been short lived. Chelsea do have a tough test against Tottenham on Wednesday, but given the way they are playing under Antonio Conte it won’t be surprising if they win that match.
Liverpool’s carelessness was their own undoing tonight. They simply cannot afford to drop points in this manner if they want to win the league, especially with Chelsea basically looking unbeatable at the moment. Despite the draw not being down to glaring defensive issues, they must clean up their game at the back soon if they want to continue to challenge for the title.
Only Liverpool can take maximum points vs Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton and City but drop them vs Burnley, Bournemouth, West Ham & Sunderland.
— Anfield HQ (@AnfieldHQ) January 2, 2017
Will Klopp buy in January?
With Sadio Mane off to the AFCON, Daniel Sturridge perennially injured and Philippe Coutinho still on the sidelines, Jurgen Klopp may be tempted to dip into the market for another attacking player. January is an important stage of the league campaign and Jurgen Klopp will not want to lose momentum due to injuries and enforced absences.
Liverpool could also use another central defender to boost their ranks. Ragnar Klavan has been dependable when called upon and Dejan Lovren has also been impressive this campaign, but Reds fans will be pining for a quick return to action for Joel Matip. The experiment with Lucas Leiva at the back ended badly, and Klopp may want to strengthen at the back to avoid playing him there again.