Liverpool v Sunderland - Match Preview, Stats & Team News

To be played on Wednesday 26th March 2014 at 20:00. Venue: Anfield, Liverpool.

Odds: Liverpool 2/11, Draw 8/1, Sunderland 18/1

Last season: 3-0

Preview & injury news

It's time to play catch up for these two sides but the home side are overwhelming favourites. Liverpool could close the gap to Premier League leaders Chelsea to just a point, and they could have their title fate in their own hands come kick off if Manchester City drop points against Manchester United the night before. The Reds are currently on a six game winning run and are scoring goals for fun, even if they are prone to leaking a few - but after three away games on the trot away from home they will be playing in front of an expectant Anfield crowd for the first time in nearly a month.

Sunderland's season showed some promise not so long ago, but their form has been poor in recent weeks and they are in serious danger of being relegated from the Premier League this season. They've only taken one point from their last four matches and are three points from safety, though they have played two games less than Crystal Palace who are immediately above them. 

Liverpool have nearly a full complement of players fit with only Jose Enrique sidelined with a knee injury that has kept him out for much of the campaign, and is likely to do so until the end of the season according to some reports.

For Sunderland Fabio Borini is ineligible against his parent club whilst Marcos Alonso is suspended after he was sent off for two bookable offences in the 2-0 defeat to Norwich City at the weekend. Steven Fletcher is missing with an ankle problem which limits Gus Poyet's options up front. However the Black Cats have recalled Connor Wickham from his loan spell at Leeds United, meaning he could feature at Anfield. Keiren Westwood is still recovering from a shoulder injury he sustained earlier on in the season.

Key stats

Here are the two side's top scorers in the Premier League this season:

Luis Suarez Liverpool FW 28 25 2,244
Daniel Sturridge Liverpool FW 19 22 1,759
Steven Gerrard Liverpool MF 10 26 2,200
Adam Johnson Sunderland MF 7 26 1,750
Martin Skrtel Liverpool DF 6 28 2,502
Raheem Sterling Liverpool MF 6 25 1,595
Fabio Borini Sunderland FW 3 23 1,354
Steven Fletcher Sunderland FW 3 20 1,223
Emanuele Giaccherini Sunderland MF 3 18 1,197

Here is their average possession statistics this season:

NamePossession PercentagePlayed
Liverpool 53.80 30
Sunderland 45.64 28

And the amount of clean sheets they have managed to keep this term:

NameClean SheetPlayed
Liverpool 9 30
Sunderland 8 28

5 players to watch

Steven Gerrard - Gerrard is one booking away from receiving a two match suspension such is the collection of the yellow cards the Liverpool skipper has collected this season, so he will have to watch his step. However, he does seem to have adapted to his new deeper role very well, especially in possession, but there has been the odd occasion when he has looked vulnerable. Expect to see him in possession for much of the game pulling the strings of the Liverpool side.

Wes Brown - He's going need to use all of his experience and all of his quality if Sunderland are to get a result at Anfield. Brown and the rest of the visiting defenders are going to be in for a tough time as they face a strike partnership that has scored a combined total of 47 goals this season.

Luis Suarez - Prior to March, some were asking if Suarez was going through a goal drought. Five goals and three games later, Suarez is storming towards picking up the golden boot, and surely the Player of the Year title along with it. Will he add to his tally against Sunderland?

Liam Bridcutt - Bridcutt was brought into Sunderland during the January window, and has shown signs of being an assured player on the ball in the middle of the park. If selected against Liverpool he is going to have to put in one of his best performances in a Sunderland shirt as he tries to break up the play and use possession wisely in what is going to be a tough 90 minutes against a high pressing, creative midfield.

Martin Skrtel - Again Liverpool's defence has come under the microscope, but if anyone is going to remain at the heart of the defence it is going to be their most consistent performer in Skrtel. He has also been chipping in with the odd important goal like at the weekend against Cardiff. He and the rest of the Liverpool back line would happily take a clean sheet here, though.

Earlier on in the season

Sunderland 1-3 Liverpool, September 2013

It was the day when Luis Suarez returned to Premier League action and was back in amongst the goals for Liverpool as they went second in the Premier League table. Sunderland, meanwhile, continued to struggle with caretaker boss Kevin Ball in charge. Daniel Sturridge opened the scoring as he turned in Steven Gerrard's corner, though replays suggest it may have been handball. There was nothing dubious about the second goal as a glorious crossfield ball from Gerrard was collected by Sturridge, who then put in a low cross to allow Suarez his first goal. Sunderland showed some fight at the start of the second half and pulled a goal back through Emanuele Giaccherini - who put in a rebound after Simon Mignolet parried Ki sung-Yeung's shot. Sunderland were much brighter in the second half but Liverpool started to control the game again, and Suarez got his second two minutes from time as the visitors broke on the counter-attack, with the Uruguayan tapping in from another Sturridge cross.

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