Gus Poyet once again shows he's not afraid to make big tactical changes in an order to get results. But is it more out of desperation or necessity than anything else? We haven't seen this shape before, though we briefly went three at the back when down to nine men at Hull City earlier in the season.
I'm an advocate of a 3-5-2 variant and this appears to the plan to an extent. Connor Wickham partners Jozy Altidore up front, whilst Giaccherini fills the link man role. Lee Cattermole and Liam Bridcutt will sit and protect a back three, where Santiago Vergini slots in. Andrea Dossena will roam about a bit, probably. He'll supposed to be playing left back, though.
It's a bold move from Gus, but it might be a good shape to counter Liverpool's rather potent diamond formation. Let's hope this is a new start for Connor Wickham, too. I've been hugely critical of him and I'd love to see him shut me up. If he fancies starting tonight? Be my guest, Connor.
Sunderland (5-2-1-2): Vito Mannone; Phil Bardsley, John O'Shea, Wes Brown, Santiago Vergini, Andrea Dossena; Liam Bridcutt, Lee Cattermole; Emanuele Giaccherini; Jozy Altidore, Connor Wickham.
Substitutes: Oscar Ustari, Seb Larsson, Jack Colback, Ki Sung-Yeung, Adam Johnson, Nacho Scocco, Valentin Roberge.
Brendan Rodgers sticks with the same side that thumped Cardiff City at the weekend. They've really kicked it up a notch in recent weeks, winning five Premier League games on the bounce. Not bad. Our only hope may be that they feel some pressure if we keep it tight. They know a win will see them go a point behind league leaders Chelsea.
We all know where the threat is here, and that's everywhere. In spite of Gus's comments regarding Suarez yesterday, Liverpool have some fluid, clever and devastating players at their disposal. It's going to be vital that our screening players are vigilant and fully concentrated if we want to get anything from this game.
Liverpool (4-4-2): Simon Mignolet; Glen Johnson, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, Jon Flanagan; Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson, Philippe Countinho, Joe Allen; Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge
Substitutes: Brad Jones, Iago Aspas, Victor Moses, Mamadou Sakho, Aly Cissokho, Lucas Leiva, Raheem Sterling.
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