What could be better than a bit of midweek soccer in the new year, when Sunderland travels to face Liverpool in a matchup between mid-table teams?
Well, I suppose if you aren't a fan of either side, quite a few things are probably more interesting. But if that's what you're thinking, you might just miss out on an intriguing match.
Liverpool is fresh off a 3-0 victory over QPR and has really started to put it together this season, while Sunderland is coming off a tough 2-1 loss to Tottenham after two wins and clean sheets in league play. With Sunderland dangerously close to the relegation zone, you know the team will come out swinging.
It may not be Manchester United versus Manchester City, but this game promises to be a solid watch. Below, you'll find all the information you need heading into the match.
Where: Anfield, Liverpool, England
When: Wednesday, Jan. 2 at 2:45 p.m. ET
Watch: ESPN2; WatchESPN
What They're Saying
Here are a few match facts to whet your whistle before this game, via Yahoo! Sport:
Liverpool have won only two of their last seven Premier League games against Sunderland, after winning each of the previous six.
Each of the last four meetings between Liverpool and Sunderland have gone under 2.5 goals.
Liverpool have won only six of their last 21 Premier League games in January.
Liverpool have alternated a win and a loss in each of their last five games. If this run continues, they will lose this match.
Liverpool has won four of its last six in Premier League play, however, and the Reds have shot up to ninth in the table after a very tough start to the season. They won't be cracking the top four this year, but at least they should be respectable in the new year.
Player to Watch: Luis Suarez, Liverpool
Who else would you watch?
Suarez has 16 goals in 26 appearances for Liverpool this season and has notched three in his last three Premier League games, including two in the first half against QPR this weekend.
All season, he's been the one threatening player Liverpool has in the attacking third. His probing runs, nimble feet on the ball and pinpoint finishing have made him one of the most feared players in the Premier League this season.
His 13 goals in league are tied for second place with Demba Ba of Newcastle and Michu of Swansea City and trail only Robin van Persie's 14 tallies.
For Liverpool, the recipe for success is simple—when Suarez scores, the team is 4-2-6 this season. If Suarez gets hot, Liverpool becomes a much more difficult team to beat. If Sunderland can't contain him, Sunderland can't win.
Key Matchup: Simon Mignolet vs. Liverpool Attack
Despite allowing two goals this weekend against Tottenham, Sunderland keeper Simon Mignolet was excellent against Spurs, keeping the score closer than it should have been in the 2-1 loss. He came into the match with Tottenham on a string of good form, with three clean sheets in his previous four matches.
On the year, Mignolet has seven clean sheets, keeping Sunderland competitive despite the team's poor start to the campaign.
That will be tough against Liverpool, which has scored 12 goals in its last five Premier League games and eight goals in its last three matches. Mignolet promises to be blitzkrieged in this contest—if he can survive the onslaught and keep this game close, Sunderland might sneak away with a point or even three.
Which team wins?
Liverpool comes off excellent form against QPR and looks like a team that is starting to click under manager Brendan Rodgers. Sunderland is fighting for its life to avoid relegation. I like the Reds to take this one, 2-1.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets are ready to start the new year with a barrage of goals.