Roy Hodgson will hope his team can deliver their first convincing win of the season when they play host to Sunderland on Saturday. Things haven’t panned out so easily for the new Liverpool boss after losing away to Manchester United last weekend and crashing out of the Carling Cup on Wednesday to Northampton Town; their only win so far this season has been at home to West Brom and even that wasn’t quite as convincing as Liverpool fans had hoped.
Positives for Liverpool lie in the fact that a number of first team players will return for their game with the Black Cats after being rested midweek. Steven Gerrard and Pepe Reina are amongst the names returning, as is Fernando Torres, looking to improve on what the press deem to be a disappointing season so far for the striker.
Steve Bruce has rubbished these claims on Sunderland’s official website:
“Torres is a wonderful player.
“He’s had an injury – even top, top players can have two or three back to back and struggle getting back.
“It will take time. But make no mistake, he has real quality. Look at last season against us; he took two or three minutes to curl one in the top corner.”
Sunderland lost 3-0 away at Anfield last season with Torres notching up two of the goals, whilst Glen Johnson bagged the other. However, Liverpool are at their most vulnerable after their defeat to a League two side in the Carling cup, and losing to their bitter rivals last week. If there was ever a time for Steve Bruce’s men to finally put to bed their dreadful away record, it could be now.
Against both Arsenal and Manchester City, the Black Cats reverted to 4-5-1. If Bruce’s side can emulate the incessant pressure that takes possession-play sides such as Liverpool out of their comfort zone, they could come up trumps for the first time since 1983. Lee Cattermole returns for Sunderland after suffering a two match ban. Retaining his captaincy, this is the big stage in which the ill disciplined midfielder could prove his critics, some of who are now Sunderland fans due to the player’s erratic behaviour.
Darren Bent is likely to feature as a lone striker as new signing Asamoah Gyan is one of three players said to be out with hamstring injuries. The other two, Keiran Richardson and Anton Ferdinand look set to be replaced by Paulo Da Silva and Phil Bardsley, though Michael Turner could be in contention for a comeback from injury.
Despite the pressures of recent performances and yet another proposed protest, I expect Liverpool to beat Sunderland 1-0 in what will be a close encounter.
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