Liverpool vs Sunderland: Match preview and predicted line-ups
Liverpool were disappointed that they failed to take three points last weekend after dominating Southampton for large portions of the game, but they will be confident of bouncing back with a win at Anfield on Saturday. They will be coming up against a resurgent Sunderland side who have won their last two fixtures. Although they will have momentum behind them, there is a clear talent difference between the two and Liverpool should really be winning with some comfort.
The home side have been talked about as potential title challengers this season and it is east to see why. They are devastating in attack with the triumvirate of Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. In addition to these three, Jurgen Klopp has Daniel Sturridge in reserve, who is capable of scoring 20+ goals himself. The defence has been a concern over the first few months of the season, but two clean sheets in their last five provides them with something to build on over the Christmas period.
Sunderland managed to climb off the bottom of the table last weekend with a convincing 3-0 victory over Hull City. They are now only three points away from safety, which would be a significant step for David Moyes and the squad after languishing at the bottom of the table for so long. Sunderland have form of climbing out of trouble in extraordinary fashion and they could be set to repeat those heroics this season, albeit this time it may not come as a result of a managerial change.
Liverpool haven’t lost in their last ten matches and have won seven of over that period. It has been impressive from a side that didn’t even qualify for European football last season and highlights how important a pre-season is. Jurgen Klopp has managed to successfully coach his methods that worked so well at Dortmund and he could be set for further success with Liverpool. A Premier League challenge may be beyond them this season, but they are certainly looking likely for a top four finish.
Sunderland have won their last two fixtures, scoring five and conceding just one. Although the opposition wasn’t of the highest quality, it was a much needed six points and they are now better placed to push for survival over the coming months. That said, they have still lost eight of their 12 Premier League fixtures this season and will be outsiders this weekend. Their season won’t be determined by matches against the Liverpools of this league, but a good performance is important if they want to maintain their momentum.
I expect Sadio Mane to pull through despite an injury concern during the week. Liverpool should be unchanged, which provides a huge opportunity to Gini Wijnaldum, who has yet to convince since joining in the summer from Newcastle.
Jack Rodwell and Wahbi Khazri could come into the side to replace the missing Papy Djilobodji and Paddy McNair, which would see Jason Denayer move back to a defensive role. Victor Anichebe is likely to partner Jermain Defoe up front, with both strikers in fine form at the moment.
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Sheyi Ojo and Sadio Mane are both doubts for the match with back and knee injuries respectively. If the latter misses out, it will provide an opportunity to Daniel Sturridge to show his quality from the start. Danny Ings and Adam Lallana are long term injury concerns. Neither will be involved this weekend.
Fabio Borini and Jack Rodwell could both be involved this weekend after making good progress with their recoveries. Jan Kirchhoff and Seb Larsson are in contention after featuring for the U23 squad this week. Lee Cattermole and Paddy McNair are both long term injury concerns, while Papy Djilobodji will miss out through suspension.
Sunderland deserve huge credit for their recent turnaround in form and I expect them to battle hard on Saturday, but they will struggle to deal with the quality of this Liverpool side. There is a clear talent difference between the two and I expect that to be shown clearly on Saturday with the home side winning by a comfortable margin. It won’t be a humiliation for Sunderland, but they won’t take anything from the game either. A Liverpool win by two or three goals is likely.
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