Liverpool and Sunderland meet at Anfield for a revised midweek clash which sees both teams desperate to pick up the win which will help their respective situations. Liverpool, on hand, are vying for their first title in over 20 years and with six straight wins under their belt, they will go into the game brimming with confidence, aiming to put an impressive display in front of their home crowd. Sunderland are in the mists of their own battle down at the bottom of the table. Only nine points separate the bottom nine teams and any result for the Black Cats will temporarily ease fears with a game against West Ham to come up.
The home side have been in scintillating form of late, winning their last three games, all away from home and scoring 12 goals in the process. Commanding 3-0 wins against Southampton and Man United was followed up by a 6-3 win at Cardiff City on the weekend. Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge again showed why they are the most deadly strike force in the league, with the former grabbing himself a hat-trick to take his tally to 28 goals for the season. The Reds go into the game in second place and have a chance to cut the gap between them and first place Chelsea to just one point on Wednesday night.
Sunderland, in contrast, will be desperate to get a win under their belts, having not won in their four games in the Premier League. Their last matches have been against fellow strugglers Crystal Palace and Norwich where they failed to score both times which will be bitterly disappointing for the fans and the players alike. The Black Cats currently sit in 18th place, three points away from Crystal Palace and West Brom who have played two more games than Sunderland. Gus Poyet will urge his players to go into the game with nothing to lose in a game which most would see as a home banker.
The game between these two sides earlier in the season marked Luis Suarez’s return following his ban and made an instant impact, scoring twice in a 3-1 win at The Stadium of Light. Sturridge was the other Liverpool man on the score sheet with Giaccherini replying for Sunderland.
The Reds go into the fixture with an almost fully fit squad with Jose Enrique being the exception with a long term knee injury. Brendan Rodgers has tinkered with his squad efficiently in the last few weeks and will again need to decide whether to stick with his new found diamond formation and whether to bring Raheem Sterling back into the starting line up.
Like Liverpool, Sunderland haven’t too many injuries worries themselves with only Kieran Westwood (shoulder) and Steven Fletcher (foot) out of action for the game. However, Marcos Alonso will be suspended following his red card against Norwich while Fabio Borini is ineligible for the game with Liverpool being his parent club.
After going a few games without a goal, Daniel Sturridge got himself amongst the goals again after a well picked out from passed left him with a simple tap in against Cardiff. Sturridge has been in tremendous form throughout much of this season, rarely being off form and has shown this form by scoring 19 goals in the Premier league this season with a ratio of almost a goal a game scoring every 93 minutes. Daniel Sturridge has shown this season that he is superbly clinical finisher when given the chance scoring 13 of his 21 clear cut chances at goal this season, meaning that he has scored 59% of his clear cut chances. Creatively Sturridge has also contributed fairly creating 26 chances with an impressive 7 assists to his name. But the most important thing that Sunderland will have to worry about in terms of Sturridge is not him individually, but how he is linking with Luis Suarez and creating a formidable partnership which has seen them notch up 47 goals altogether this season.
After getting himself back in contention to make the England squad for the world cup with a string of good performances, Adam Johnson has seen his form dip recently and will want to get back into Hodgson’s good books by playing an important role for Sunderland in their battle for survival. Johnson is the Black Cat’s leading scorer this season with seven goals and nine overall. Just like his counterpart Sturridge, he has been quite clinical with his chances, scoring 4 out 5 of his clear cut attempts. We know that Johnson has the capabilities to be a handful on his day and has created a chance, on average, one every 47 minutes with a total of 37 chances this season, with three assists. Johnson will be crucial in exploiting Liverpool’s defensive frailties if his side are to gather a result on Wednesday night.
With this season being as unpredictable as any in the past, nothing is a certainty in Premier League. Saying that, with Liverpool’s blistering form of late, it will be difficult to predict anything other than a home win. Sunderland have got the ability to cause trouble on their day but stopping Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge on this form seems like a step too far for Gus Poyet’s side.
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