Liverpool will be looking to win at home for the first time since Boxing Day when they entertain struggling Sunderland, who have not won at Anfield since 1983.
It was a very open game for long periods, but the presence of Jamie Vardy was simply too much for the Liverpool defenders to handle as they went down to a 2-0 defeat at leaders Leicester City in midweek; a result that represented another setback for Jurgen Klopp as he attempts to instil some consistency into his side. A sensational opening goal rather knocked the stuffing out of them, while Mamadou Sakho’s mistake led to the second.
Question marks continue to hover over the Reds defence, which has another tricky afternoon in store up against Jermain Defoe, who has five Premier League goals to his name already in 2016. On the other hand, the Reds have plenty in their locker going forward should they find the necessary fluidity to their play, with standout performances required by the likes of Jordon Ibe and Adam Lallana, while the occasionally inspired Roberto Firmino needs to stop blowing hot and cold if he is to fully justify his £29m transfer fee.
There is still a gap for Sunderland to make up if they are to escape the danger of relegation for another season, but their chances of doing so will only be enhanced if they keep playing like they did in a losing cause at home to title hopefuls Manchester City. Behind to Sergio Aguero’s first half goal they piled on the pressure as the game wore on and were incredibly unfortunate to come away with nothing, denied by a succession of fine saves from opposition goalkeeper Joe Hart.
It was a match that also saw a couple of recent signings make their debuts as Lamine Kone slotted in at centre-back and allowed Billy Jones to play in his more natural position at right-back, where he twice came inches away from drawing his side level. Wahbi Khazri also made an energetic cameo after coming off the bench, and Dame N’Doye could prove an effective partner for Defoe in attack over the remainder of the season, having impressed for Hull City a year ago.
The hosts should have Joe Allen available as he has shaken off a shoulder problem, but Divock Origi, Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge will not be considered despite returning to training.
Younes Kaboul is back for Sunderland following a hamstring injury, but there are doubts over midfield duo Jeremain Lens and Yann M’Vila.
Last Meeting: The two clubs drew 0-0 in December 2014 in what was without question one of the dullest matches of last season. Of the few chances that arrived at either end, Sunderland had the better of them as Connor Wickham and Wes Brown came close, while the hosts’ Raheem Sterling saw a penalty appeal turned down.
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