It’s a rare occurrence to be coming into a Premier League match off the back of a disappointing result for Liverpool this season but should the 0-0 at Southampton be classed as a poor result?
Given recent form, especially in-front of goal, it should go down as two points dropped. However, the plus side was the clean sheet, especially as the defence is still being placed under question by those discussing who will win the title this season.
Southampton did not register a single shot on target against Liverpool last weekend. This statistic shows just how well the defence coped with the likes of Charlie Austin, Nathan Redmond, Sofiane Boufal, Shane Long and Jay Rodriguez. Another solid display at the back against Sunderland this weekend will surely yield maximum points in-front of the Anfield faithful. Joel Matip has already established himself at the heart of the defence and the summer signing read the game well at St Mary’s, breaking up the play and getting the ball forward to give Liverpool momentum.
With a full week of training under their belts, having recovered from the long and gruelling trips away on international duty, the match against David Moyes’ Sunderland, should see Liverpool back to their best in attack. Philippe Coutinho was the one player who seemed to be suffering most from his exploits with Brazil last weekend. Expect to see Coutinho back to his creative best this weekend, against a Sunderland team who have won their last two Premier League games.
There is no reason to come into this match with any other thought than seeing another fantastic home performance from Liverpool. Even considering the 0-0 draw with Manchester United, Liverpool have scored an average of 3.4 goals in their last five home Premier League games. Entertainment has been high and the slick link-up play between Coutinho, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana has been a joy to behold. Lallana is expected to miss out once again due to injury and it will fall to Georginio Wijnaldum to fill in again for the England international. The Dutchman did a decent job against Southampton but fans will be hoping for a little more from him in this game.
History is in Liverpool’s favour, having gone 17 league games undefeated against the Black Cats at Anfield. The team news for Sunderland sees Steven Pienaar available again but defender, Papy Djilobodji, is suspended and this will be a blow to Moyes’ plans. Former Manchester United man, John O’Shea, is expected to come in, especially with Paddy McNair out for the rest of the season and the Irishman can expect a vociferous welcome from the Anfield faithful.
The retirement of Steven Gerrard has taken many of the headlines in the lead-up to this match and Jurgen Klopp has been quick to focus minds on the match at hand. There is little doubt, if Liverpool came out the way they did against Watford, Sunderland will struggle to cope for 90 minutes.
Manchester City are playing in the early kick-off at Burnley, who have lost just one of their last six home Premier League games, which means it could be an opportunity to open up a points gap over Pep Guardiola’s team.
This is a match, which in recent seasons, Liverpool have struggled to win. However, there is a new-found confidence in the team that goals will come. Sunderland should not be underestimated given their recent form but even if they play well, this Liverpool team will have too much for them going forward and we can expect to see more goals from Liverpool at Anfield this weekend. The key could be the performance of Wijnaldum but with Coutinho, Firmino and Mane operating at 100%, there is no defence in the country who can cope with Liverpool’s front three, when they are at full throttle.
Liverpool team news:
Liverpool: Karius, Clyne, Matip, Lovren, Milner, Henderson, Can, Wijnaldum, Mane, Firmino, Coutinho.
Subs: Mignolet, Ejaria, Woodburn, Lucas, Klavan, Origi, Moreno.