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Fan Focus: Q&A With This Is Anfield

Though the mood amongst Sunderland fans at the moment isn't particularly brilliant, it would seem it is far, far worse amongst Liverpool fans. Little over six months ago they were on the brink of a League title - this season has panned out slightly differently, and it hasn't gone down well. I caught up with Matt Ladson from top Liverpool blog 'This is Anfield' to get his thoughts ahead of the game at the Stadium of Light this weekend.

Stu Forster/Getty Images

Since we played out a draw at the start of December at your place your form has been fairly inconsistent – do you see this theme continuing throughout the rest of the season, or do you expect Liverpool to kick on and challenge for a top four place?

I sincerely hope we find more consistency. I do think we will once Sturridge returns and with other players finding their feet too. The start to the campaign has seen so many problems with new signings not fitting in and players struggling to find form (Coutinho, Henderson). As for a top four challenge, I personally think the chances are very slim, it would need incredible form over this half of the season and with Europe, League and FA Cup distractions I can't see it happening. Dropping out the Champions League so quickly is extremely disheartening.

I was down at Anfield for that game earlier in the season and it’s fair to say that I sensed some discontent from the fans I spoke to before and after the game. What’s the feeling like amongst the Liverpool fans at the minute?

It's hard to believe that a little over six months ago we were going to Anfield genuinely thinking we were on the verge of finally winning the title. It was always going to be a huge fall from there and the way it's played out, with such turgid home form too, has been pretty incredible. Tickets in April were being sold for £600, now you can get spares easily for any game.

Now we’re well into January it’s pretty much expected that Liverpool will spend some money on improvements – who would you like to see come in? Who do you expect will leave?

It's not expected from any Liverpool fan I know. Rodgers said it will be 'little, if any' and with FFP that seems to be true. Key will be getting rid of Borini and possibly another to fund a signing. If we don't sign a keeper we can kiss any slim chance of a top four finish goodbye.

Simon Mignolet has been absolutely shocking this season, lets be honest. Sunderland fans still have fond memories of him as his time here was largely a success – what do you think the future holds for him at Liverpool?

His future is clearly over long-term at Anfield. It's been harsh on him. One of the most baffling things has to be why Liverpool signed a goalkeeper who literally cannot kick a ball, when a possession playing keeper is so key to Rodgers' ideals. That alone should have seen someone sacked (whoever made the decision to sign him). You can't hide how Liverpool's keeper coach must be called into question too.

Another ex-Sunderland player currently at Liverpool, Fabio Borini, has been used sparingly since choosing to stay at Anfield in the summer. Do you think he’ll leave this month?

Hopefully. Let's be clear, Rodgers has managed him poorly and his exiling completely from squads choosing not to even name him (or any forward therefore) on the bench was childish. You have to feel sorry for him now when he gets his 2 minute cameos every other week. We need the money and hopefully he'll go for that reason alone. Someone, perhaps Swansea, will get a decent goalscorer.

On to the game at the weekend – generally speaking we tend to do alright against the better sides such as yourselves – how do you see the game playing out? We’re not scoring a great deal of goals at the minute but don’t concede many, either. It should certainly be an interesting match.

You'll probably score against us then! The game at Anfield was a poor one but we've improved since then (thank god) and should cause you more problems. Your chances might depend on whether he brings Lovren back into the side!

Who from the Sunderland side do you think could cause some damage?

Given our woeful ability to defend set-pieces, anyone who can head a ball at a set-piece. We're also shocking against any remotely physical forward so we're bound to make Altidore look like Shearer for one game.

Who in the Liverpool side do you think can be the key to picking up a win?

Sterling. He'll likely return to play as the centre-forward with Coutinho and Gerrard behind him. Markovic could be key too, he's been improving of late and could move central with Moreno coming in on the left.

Dare you give a score prediction?

2-1 away win.

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