Preview: Will Sunderland See Red At Anfield?

Stu Forster

Sunderland travel to Anfield, where hopefully it's only the opposition nursing hangovers from the New Year. Liverpool have been quite hit and miss this year, and it's been proven that winning at Anfield isn't an impossible task. Can we do it? Check out our preview and work it out yourself!

Sunderland Team News

Martin O'Neill has the luxury of being able to recall Danny Rose to the starting lineup and is expected to do so, even if Phil Bardsley does recover in time from his recent bout of illness.

A change will have to be made in central defence as goalscorer John O'Shea has done his hamstring and will miss a few weeks. The decision will be whether to start with Titus Bramble or Matt Kilgallon. Neither particularly fill you with confidence but I'd imagine O'Neill, like us, will favour Kilgallon for the role.

Lee Cattermole still isn't fit enough to start and will miss out entirely, but the rest of the midfield and attack is likely to be as is from last time out against Tottenham Hotspur.

Liverpool Team News

Liverpool will come into this one off the back of a very convincing 3-0 win over Queens Park Rangers and it's unlikely they'll be making too many changes to the team that won there.

Brendan Rodgers, if healthy enough, may only be tempted to mess about with Jose Enrique and Stewart Downing interchanging between midfield and defence, while Joe Allen was given a breather at Loftus Road as Lucas Leiva continued his return from injury.

Jonjo Shelvey has also been quite decent this season and will be pushing for a start alongside Luis Suarez in attack, as it remains to be seen if Daniel Sturridge will be registered in time to play.

Predicted Lineups

SAFC: Mignolet; Gardner, Kilgallon, Cuellar, Rose; Johnson, Colback, Larsson, McClean; Sessegnon, Fletcher.

LFC: Reina; Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Enrique; Allen, Leiva; Sterling, Gerrard, Downing; Suarez

Key Matchup: Danny Rose Vs Raheem Sterling

This little battle should be an interesting one to watch as two of England's brightest young talents go head to head. Sterling seems to be an incredibly gifted player and will give Rose one of his toughest tests at left-back with his trickery and pace, but similarly Rose is exceptional going forward and whether or not Sterling is prepared to track back and help Glen Johnson - himself a marauding fullback - remains to be seen. We could yet have plenty of joy down the left hand side.

Recent Form: WLWLW

Win: West Ham united 2-3 Liverpool (Johnson 11, Noble 36, Gerrard OG 43, J.Cole 76, Shelvey 79)
Loss: Liverpool 1-3 Aston Villa (Benteke 29, 51, Weimann 40, Gerrard 87)
Win: Liverpool 4-0 Fulham (Skrtel 8, Gerrard 36, Downing 51, Suarez 90)
Loss: Stoke City 3-1 Liverpool (Gerrard Pen 2, Walters 5, 49, Jones 12)
Win: Queens Park Rangers 0-3 Liverpool (Suarez 10, 16, Agger 27)

Last Time Around: Liverpool 1-1 Sunderland, 13/08/11

A rare sight last season in the opener was a positive result under Steve Bruce. One that made us kind of believe this season was set to be different. After Luis Suarez opened the scoring early it looked like we might be dead and buried but then early in the second half Seb Larsson popped up with a superb sideways volley to take a point from Anfield.

The Ref: Phil Dowd

Once again this season we meet up with Phil Dowd, and we'll be hoping for better luck this time around after both our previous meetings have ended in defeat for us - Middlesbrough in the Capital One Cup, and Norwich City away.

Some worries going into this one are that he's dished out nearly three cards per game with 37 in 13 (at time of writing) and also dished out two red cards along with EIGHT penalties. Crikey. Hopefully clumsy old Titus doesn't start this one or the fact we'll give away a penalty is money in the bank.

Against us in general he's given out nearly double the amount of cards in comparison to our opponents with 52 against 34 for them. He's also given four penalties against us and only two for.

What The Managers Said

Martin O'Neill:

We can draw comfort from these last two games. The commitment of the team was very strong and there's plenty of spirit there as was displayed.

Liverpool are a fine side with some good players. They're just finding their feet at the minute and they've got a real calibre of player at their disposal in Luis Suarez.

It will be a difficult test.

Brendan Rodgers:

The second half of the season, and in particular the last 10 games, I believe you are working to because that is the business end when things are decided.

We can still achieve our objectives this season so when you can do that going into the second part of the season it gives you real hope.

Roker Report Predicts

Yet another tough one for us having just come off back to back games against Spurs and Manchester City. Liverpool have however been inconsistent of late, and it's not impossible we could get a result here. Christ, we even got a pretty decent result against them last season under Steve Bruce. Combine that with the game earlier this season, and our form in general against Brendan Rodgers teams, I think we can manage at least a 1-1 draw here, with an outside of chance of getting something better.

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