Liverpool take on a Sunderland side who are riding high in the Premier League after a solid start to the season. Victory for the Black Cats could even see them move ahead of Liverpool in the Premier League. And Liverpool have their problems. Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres both appear to be struggling with injuries after a horrible international break. Kyrgiakos is out for at least 2 weeks after the latest scan and the game is set to be too soon to see Alberto Aquilani. Javier Mascherano, Emiliano Insua and Lucas Leiva are all only arriving back in to England 24 hours before kick off.
Former Liverpool player Bolo Zenden has just signed for Sunderland and could go straight in to the team to face the reds.
Liverpool completed a double over Sunderland last season. The reds struggled their way to a 1-0 victory at The Stadium of Light on the opening day of last season’s campaign. Fernando Torres popped up in the 83rd minute to hand the reds all three points.
The reds have won the last 6 Premier League matches against Sunderland. Sunderland failing to put the ball in the back of our net since they returned to the Premier League in 2005. Before that, they beat us 2-1 at their ground in 2002. The most famous clash between the clubs is the 1992 FA Cup Final when we beat them 2-0 to win the FA Cup. Michael Thomas and Ian Rush providing the second half goals.
The game is evenly poised as both clubs have 31 victories to their name in clashes up in the North East. There have been 14 draws.
Injuries and Suspensions
Kieran Richardson is suspended for Sunderland after being dismissed in the side’s unlucky 2-2 draw at Old Trafford last weekend.
On to Liverpool – and Gerrard and Torres are both heavy doubts for us. Neither of them trained on Thursday, although Gerrard had been able to train with England on Tuesday. Mascherano, Insua and Leiva will all be feeling the jet lag. They are not expected to arrive in to England until Friday afternoon.
Kyrgiakos has suffered ligament damage and was feared to be missing for four months. However, a second scan at Liverpool suggests he will be missing for around 2 weeks. We expect Aquilani to make the trip up to Sunderland – although it is highly unlikely he will even be handed a place on the bench. He has stepped up his training signficantly this week at Melwood.
Daniel Agger has not been tested in the Premier League since his back surgery – but he has played both two full games for Denmark in the past week so should therefore be considered as a potential starter.
Dirk Kuyt has also been struggling with injury but has declared himself fit for the clash. Just as well because the squad is wearing thin.
Liverpool lost against Chelsea in our last outing and will be keen to get back to winning ways; but Sunderland will be no pushovers.
Under Steve Bruce they have started putting some nice results together and in their last Premier League game they were very unfortunate not to beat Manchester United at Old Trafford. An injury time equaliser ensured that United took a point from the game. Sunderland have won their last 4 games at home – knocking in 13 goals in the process.
Liverpool –(from) Reina, Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel, Insua, Lucas, Kuyt, Cavalieri, Aurelio, Dossena, Mascherano, Benayoun, Plessis, Voronin, Babel, Riera, Spearing.
We expect a different formation from the reds for this game. The reds could switch to 4-4-2, electing to play both Kuyt and Babel up front. The other option is playing with 3 centre backs and using Insua and Johnson more as attacking wing backs.
Possible starting XI – Reina, Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel, Insua, Lucas, Mascherano, Riera, Benayoun, Kuyt, Babel
Sunderland: (possible) Gordon, Bardsley, Turner, Ferdinand, Zenden, Malbranque, Cana, Cattermole, Reid , Bent, Jones
Sunderland are playing some good football and more importantly getting results. Liverpool have suffered more than most teams over the international break. We’re staying optimistic. Only just.
Sunderland 1-2 Liverpool