Liverpool can put early pressure on their rivals in the race for a top four place by winning for the third time in four league games as they travel to Sunderland.
The hosts continue to be stagnant in 14th place, but manager Gustavo Poyet will be all too aware that his side must start winning on a more regular basis if they are to avoid falling into the relegation mire. The gap to the bottom three currently stands at a mere three points.
There were plenty of positives to take from their last Premier League outing, as they launched a spirited comeback at champions Manchester City before losing to a Frank Lampard goal. Since then the Black Cats have advanced in the FA Cup, but this is a match they cannot afford to lose.
Allowing Leicester City to fight back and claim a 2-2 draw at Anfield on New Year’s Day saw Liverpool lose ground on fourth place, but on the whole performances have been much more convincing since manager Brendan Rodgers changed his formation to a front three.
They negotiated a tricky test at AFC Wimbledon on Monday evening, with Steven Gerrard’s double ensuring that the captain remains very much in the headlines. However, there will be concern that the defence often looked vulnerable against their League Two opponents.
Sunderland will be without Sebastien Coates, who cannot face his parent club, while Anthony Revelliere is injured. Despite that, Lee Cattermole should return.
Adam Lallana, Daniel Sturridge, Jon Flanagan and Glen Johnson are all out for Liverpool, who are hopeful that Joe Allen can return to contention.
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Sunderland