After Saturdays result against Middlesbrough only the most optimistic Liverpool / Chelsea fans and the mathmaticians within football say that the league is not over. It is really inconceivable that ManU in their current form and with their current resources will squander the points lead that they have built at the top of the EPL. This does not mean however that for the Liverpool squad the season is over. If the teams performances dip on the back of the gloom around Anfield automatic qualification for next seasons Champions League competition will be lost as well. Chelsea, Villa and even Arsenal will fight tooth and nail from now until the end of the season and the manager, Gerrard, Carragher and Alonso need to bring the team back into line and produce the strongest finish to the season as possible.
This starts therefore with tonights visit of Sunderland. Since taking over from Roy Keane, Ricky Sbragia has done in my opinion a decent job and he seems to have the players performing for him with more determination and a will to win. The team spirit is back so much more now than during the period that brought the demise/end of Keane and Quinns re-healed relationship after the goings on in Japan during the World Cup.
The history of this fixture shows that we have won our last five meetings with Sunderland without conceding a goal. Well that sounds like a good start but before we get carried away we will be again short up front with the continuing absence of Torres. Once again apart from the usual suspects of Kuyt and Gerrard somebody else really needs to step up to the plate and do something or else we could be on the slippery slope towards fourth place especially with our next two games in the EPL being away to the leaders ManU and then home to the top three chasing Aston Villa.
Sunderland have not won at Anfield since 1983 when some guy who I don’t even know called Gary Rowell scored a penalty for a 0-1 win. Saturday’s defeat at the Riverside was our first in 16 games and we must be eager not to fall to our first back-to-back defeats in 50 Premier League outings. That hasn’t happened since losing to Reading (a) and Manchester United (h) on 8 and 16 December 2007 respectively. Sunderland have not prised a point off Liverpool since their 2-1 victory at the Stadium of Light on 15 December 2002 and The Black Cats have failed to score in eight of the last nine Premier League meetings with the Reds.
The squad details show that if selected for Sunderland Grant Leadbitter will be making his 100th appearance whilst for Liverpool Javier Mascherano is 1 match away from 50 appearances. Liverpool will of course be facing an ex-Red in Djibril Cisse who is currently Sunderland’s top scorer with 9 goals. The 27 year old France international made 79 appearances (49 in the league) and scored 24 goals (13 league) in two years with Liverpool from July 2004.
Last season’s reverse fixture.
Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool
16 August 2008 – Ref: Alan Wiley
Liverpool scorers: Who else but – Torres 83
Funny Player Quotes.
‘There’s no in between – you’re either good or bad. We were in between’
Gary Lineker provides us with a match report for Liverpool against Boro on Saturday but you can never beat contradicting yourself within the very next sentence – stick to the golf and selling Walkers Crisps big ears.