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Five things we learned from Liverpool v Sunderland

Liverpool show their mettle as Sunderland enact damage limitation.

Below are five things that we learned from the Liverpool v Sunderland game last night:

1) Liverpool can now win ugly under manager Brendan Rodgers.

Many thought this would be a walk in the park for Liverpool, but Sunderland proved stubborn opposition. There are many ways to win a game and the Reds found that out yesterday, unable to break down a resolute Black Cats defence that ultimately came for a draw which they almost achieved towards the end.

To watch Glen Johnson and Raheem Sterling run the clock down as they took the ball into the corner showed a team that is learning to manage games better as they develop.

It's obvious to say but had the same pattern of the game played out last season, Liverpool may well have ended up with two valuable points dropped. Yesterday proves that, no matter how good Rodgers' side are at going forward, blitzing the opposition is not always possible.

2) Mamadou Sakho is Liverpool's best defender - Liverpool were unable to keep a clean sheet yet again after John Flanagan lost his marker.

It would be all too easy to blame the 21-year-old however. As Jamie Carragher remarked on TV, the slack defending at the corner from which Sunderland and Ki Sung-Yueng equalised had a lot to do with Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger not being aggressive enough to cut the danger out at the near post where they were positioned.

Both defenders have been guilty of this before and while Liverpool can just about get away with one of their centre-backs' lack of aggression, they cannot afford to with both if they are to maintain a Premier League charge.

Fortunately they have Mamadou Sakho in reserve and he has this all important quality in abundance. He is the most aggressive defender at the club and should now start in place of either Agger or Skrtel for the remaining games of the season.

3) Ki and Johnson are more than just impact substitutes.

The introduction of Ki Sung-Yueng and Adam Johnson added some much need thrust to the Sunderland attack and made a wonder as to why they did not feature from the start.

As Sunderland manager Gus Poyet admitted after the game, the pair brought quality on the ball, putting Liverpool on the back foot in the process. 

Ki's header was a timely reminder of the thing that Sunderland need above all in their fight to stay in the Premier League. Goals. He and Johnson should now start on Monday at home to West Ham.

4) A change of system is required - Poyet opted to use a 3-5-2 formation with three centre-back and two wing backs to plug the spaces that Liverpool would look to exploit and for large periods it worked.

The visitors were able to defy predictions that they would lose heavily and make it a tight affair. In the future however Poyet will need to revert to a system that is more suited to producing goals, one that is set up to attack and get bodies into the opposition box.

Connor Wickham and Jozy Altidore looked lost at times and will require support from the midfielders especially. That can only come if the likes of Johnson and Ki are closer to them and thereby able to provide sufficient service.

5) Liverpool will need to be patient.

Sunderland will not be the last team to come to Anfield to stifle the Merseysiders.

Liverpool have four more games left to play at home before the season concludes and they will need to stay calm and composed if they are to secure further victories in their pursuit of the Premier League title. The sense of frustration in the air was magnified the longer the game stayed 0-0 and it is vital that Liverpool do not force the issue. The players must continue to believe in themselves that they are capable of finding ways through packed defences, even if it doesn't happen in the first 15 minutes.

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