Sunderland Team News
Following Marcos Alonso's red card on Saturday afternoon, Gus Poyet now faces something of a selection conundrum as to how to fill the vacant left back spot with Andrea Dossena and Jack Colback the likely contenders. My personal preference would be for a return to fullback for the flame-haired one as to be quite frank, a side that includes Dossena only inspires nightmares.
Elsewhere Connor Wickham's premature return from a loan spell with Leeds United raises a few selection questions. With Steven Fletcher facing another lengthy spell on the sidelines, Jozy Altidore continuing to frustrate and exasperate in equal measure and Fabio Borini ineligible due to the conditions of his loan deal, could Wickham make an immediate return to the side? There certainly seems to be a suggestion he may...
The midfield three is also an area of intrigue of late as Gus Poyet struggles to find the right mix, although a trio of Sebastian Larsson, Lee Cattermole and Ki Sung-Yueng seems the more likely.
Liverpool Team News
Liverpool are in imposing form having won their last six outings in the Premier League, with only a defeat to Arsenal in the FA Cup as a blemish on their incredible recent record.
Sunderland will likely have to contend with the incredible striking duo that is Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge who have been in scintillating form this term, with O'Shea and company looking to be in for a long night trying to keep the two quiet.
Sunderland (4-1-4-1): Mannone; Bardsley, O'Shea, Brown, Colback; Cattermole, Larsson, Ki; Johnson, Giaccherini, Altidore
Liverpool (4-3-1-2): Mignolet; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Flanagan; Henderson, Gerrard, Allen; Sterling; Sturridge, Suarez
Key Match-up: Sunderland Vs Luis Suarez
No big surprise here but Sunderland's ability to keep the Uruguayan quiet would be a massive step in taking anything from tonight's game. Let's not kid ourselves though, this in itself is going to be a mammoth task, especially if Saturday's showing is anything to go by. However, if O'Shea and Brown can put in one of the performances of their respective careers we may, may, just have a chance...
Recent Form: WWWWL
Win: Cardiff City 3-6 Liverpool (Mutch 9, Suarez 16, 60 & 90, Campbell 25, Skrtel 41 & 54, Sturridge 75)
Win: Manchester United 0-3 Liverpool (Gerrard pen 34 & pen 46, Suarez 84)
Win: Southampton 0-3 Liverpool (Suarez 16, Sterling 58, Gerrard pen 90)
Win: Liverpool 4-3 Swansea City (Sturridge 3, Henderson 20 & 74, Shelvey 23, Skrtel OG 27, Bony pen 47)
Loss: Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool (Oxlade Chamberlain 16, Podolski 47, Gerrard pen 59)
Last Time Around: Sunderland 1-3 Liverpool, 29/10/13
Luis Suarez marked his return to action following his ten game ban for gnawing on Branislav Ivanovic's arm back in April with a brace at the Stadium of Light. Sunderland were under the tutelage of caretaker manager Kevin Ball following the sacking of Paolo Di Canio and despite the disappointing result the former skipper and all-round club legend did appear to be steadying the ship somewhat with performances not being rewarded with the results they perhaps deserved.
However, despite a more positive approach inspired by Ball, Sunderland lacked that something special in the final third, something which has continued to plague the side to this day.
The Ref: Kevin Friend
Kevin Friend is set the take charge of tomorrow evening's re-arranged fixture at Anfield, a man who incurred the wrath of Gus Poyet back in November when he saw fit to dismiss Web Brown at the Britannia in what still rankles as one of the worst pieces of officiating I have seen.
Friend has overseen twenty-five games this season and has dished out eighty-two yellow cards and just that one ridiculous red card.
Let's hope we have more to talk about than the man in the middle this time around.
What They Said
Gus rather caught us all by surprise with a hint that Wickham may well feature from the start tonight?
We've been trying different things, different situations.
It's my job to keep searching for the solution and then you know you've done everything.
Fabio is not available tomorrow, so I'm going to keep trying different things. Connor is an option.
I can't keep closing my eyes, keep picking the team until the end of the season and think why didn't I try that.
The Liverpool boss has been quick to play down any talk of his swashbuckling side upsetting the apple cart and winning the league this year:
We haven't won it for a long time and it may or may not be this year but there is no doubt we are on the right road to winning a title here.
We are nowhere near the finished article but we are evolving and I take great pride in that.
While we are learning and improving we will hopefully continue to pick up points.
Roker Report Predicts
It is incredibly tough to remain optimistic going into this game. Liverpool are simply the best side in the League at present and have an envious habit of scoring a veritable barrel load of goals to boot. Barring something that would be a minor miracle it looks increasingly unlikely that Sunderland will come away from Merseyside with a positive result, if anything the form points towards a heavy defeat, we aren't 16/1 to win the game with the bookies for nothing. I hope I'm wrong.