Premier League Preview: How Liverpool Will Line Up Against Sunderland
After a thrilling 6-3 win at Cardiff City last Saturday, Liverpool return to Premier League action this Wednesday when they welcome Sunderland to Anfield as they continue their unlikely title challenge.
With 65 points on board and a league-leading, free-scoring attack, Liverpool will be looking to extend their imperious home form. Sunderland, meanwhile, are placed 18th in the league and haven’t won a Premier League match since their 3-0 victory in the Tyne-Wear derby over Newcastle United on February 1.
The reverse fixture at the Stadium of Light took place back in late September, when Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez twice scored to bring the Reds all three points. The Black Cats will be without star striker Fabio Borini as he is currently on loan from Liverpool.
Here is our Liverpool lineup for Wednesday’s clash at Anfield. We go back to a 4-3-3 for the Reds to overload the attack and take advantage of a leaky Sunderland defence. Let us know your picks in the comments below.
Goalkeeper: Simon Mignolet
Prior to conceding three goals in Saturday’s win over Cardiff City, Simon Mignolet had kept two successive clean sheets in the league, against Southampton and Manchester United, for the first time since last September.
He’ll be eager to return to those shutout days as Liverpool look to prepare in the best way ahead of a pivotal clash with Tottenham Hotspur this coming Sunday.
Right-Back: Glen Johnson
Jon Flanagan had kept his place as starting right-back when Glen Johnson came back into the team after an injury layoff, but it looks increasingly clear that Johnson is recapturing his fine form marauding down the Liverpool right.
He timed his run to perfection and crossed an inch-perfect ball for Luis Suarez to tap home for Liverpool’s first equalizer at Cardiff, and Brendan Rodgers will be looking for more of the same from a resurgent No. 2 on Wednesday.
Left-Back: Jon Flanagan
Jon Flanagan’s return to left-back, where he started his first-team comeback earlier this season, means that he will play a more defensive game on his unnatural side, which might come in handy against a confident Adam Johnson on Sunderland’s right.
Saturday’s display against Cardiff was one of Flanagan’s least impressive in recent weeks; he will be eager to bounce back with the support of the Anfield crowd behind him.
Centre-Back: Martin Skrtel
Another two goals at Cardiff on Saturday has brought Martin Skrtel to the top of the Premier League’s goal-scoring charts for defenders with six goals, highlighting his improvement on the attacking end this season.
But he remains an enigma in defence and still needs to cut out his occasional, costly positional errors, starting with another strong performance against Sunderland.
Centre-Back: Mamadou Sakho
For a while, it looked like Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger would return to their impressive best as one of the Premier League’s best centre-back duos, but Agger’s performance on Saturday was less than convincing.
Against the considerable bulk of Jozy Altidore, Brendan Rodgers may well reintegrate Mamadou Sakho back into his starting XI. The road ahead for Agger is very rocky indeed.
Holding Midfielder: Steven Gerrard
Steven Gerrard might be nearing a suspension due to his accumulation of yellow cards this season, but instead of resting him to avoid a booking, Brendan Rodgers should make the most out of his experience and on-field leadership as Liverpool look to push upwards in the league.
Not to mention that Gerrard is a much-needed set-piece option on the pitch. Sunderland defenders beware, especially in the box: Liverpool have been prolific at earning penalties this season.
Central Midfielder: Jordan Henderson
Whether in a 4-4-2 diamond or in a midfield trio as we have gone with here, Jordan Henderson’s relentless pressing and high-energy running will be vital, especially against an in-form Ki Sung-Yueng on Gus Poyet’s side.
Don’t be surprised if the “score against your old club rule” applies again on Wednesday.
Attacking Midfielder: Philippe Coutinho
Joe Allen is the unlucky casualty for Wednesday, as our 4-3-3 setup will look to go at Sunderland right from the get-go.
Philippe Coutinho’s attacking contributions at Cardiff City were impressive as he provided the assists for both of Martin Skrtel’s goals, and his direct running and incisive passing will be key to linking up a quick Liverpool attack.
Right Forward: Raheem Sterling
In recent weeks, it’s been a case of rotating between Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling as the tip of Brendan Rodgers’ midfield diamond but at home at Anfield on Wednesday, why not go with both attacking players?
Sterling will be a major threat for Liverpool, both on the counter-attack and also in general attacking play, while his defensive contributions in the wide areas will be useful in supporting Glen Johnson’s forward runs.
Left Forward: Luis Suarez
A hat-trick and an assist last Saturday has propelled Luis Suarez far and away to the top of the Premier League goal-scoring charts, while he remains an assist above Wayne Rooney on that chart as well.
It’s been nothing short of a phenomenal campaign for Suarez, especially considering that he hasn’t taken any penalties. The Sunderland defence will be sweating at the prospect of having to contain him on Wednesday.
Striker: Daniel Sturridge
Some way behind Suarez, but still three goals ahead of nearest challenger Yaya Toure, Daniel Sturridge has 19 Premier League goals this season in just 22 games. Only Suarez’s awe-inspiring record is taking away the spotlight from Sturridge’s achievements this season.
If Rodgers does indeed line up with the “SSS” trio up front, Gus Poyet’s side may be in for a long night.