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    Liverpool vs Sunderland Match Preview


    Two in-form teams go head-to-head at Anfield on Saturday afternoon as Jurgen Klopp's second-place Liverpool entertain David Moyes' rejuvenated Sunderland.

    The Reds surrendered top spot last weekend when they spurned several clear-cut chances to draw 0-0 at Southampton but they can make amends by reclaiming their place at the summit for at least a couple hours with victory this weekend.

    Sunderland began the season without any wins in their opening 10 league games but consecutive victories over Bournemouth and Hull have kept the Black Cats just three points adrift of the relegation zone.

    Liverpool

    Both Liverpool and Chelsea have the edge over their title rivals this season by virtue of having a whole week to prepare for their weekend fixtures, while the likes of Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United have to battle it out in European competition.

    Jurgen Klopp's side struggled to find their consistency in the league last season when their high-energy pressing game was not conducive to playing in the Europa League on Thursday nights and again the following weekend.

    The German has no such problems to endure this campaign as the Reds attempt to make it 11 successive league games without defeat on Saturday, while also having the opportunity to leapfrog leaders Chelsea into top spot.

    Only a victory would take the club to the top of the table prior to Chelsea's home match against Tottenham on Saturday evening, although a Liverpool draw followed by a two-goal Spurs win would enable Klopp's side to return to the summit.

    The Reds have only dropped two points at Anfield this season and will be strong favourites to inflict further misery on a Sunderland side who have only won five times in their last 64 meetings with Liverpool in all competitions.

    If Klopp's team are to prevail, they will need to be more clinical in front of goal than the were last Saturday when they missed a whole host of chances against a Southampton team who offered very little as an attacking threat.

    Liverpool will have to cope once again without the services of Adam Lallana, who will miss the match with a groin injury, while Klopp will need to decide whether to include Daniel Sturridge in the starting XI after omitting him in favour of Georginio Wijnaldum last weekend.

    Sunderland

    Sunderland made the worst ever start by any team to a Premier League season, collecting just two points from a possible 30, which left them eight points adrift of fourth-bottom West Ham after only 10 games.

    The club had appointed David Moyes as its 10th full-time manager in as many years just three weeks before the season began but the former Everton boss failed to build-upon the excellent form displayed under Sam Allardyce in the second-half of last season.

    Moyes signed 10 players during a busy summer including midfield Didier N'Dong, from Lorient, and defender Papy Djilobodji, from Chelsea, but the new recruits made little impact as the club failed to win in the months of August, September and October.

    The Black Cats' luck changed in November when goals from Victor Anichebe and Jermain Defoe enabled their side to come from 1-0 down to beat Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium with only 10 men while also having just 30 per cent possession.

    Sunderland backed up that win with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Hull City last Saturday in which Jermain Defoe scored his 150th Premier League goal to leave the Wearsiders potentially a win away from climbing out of the bottom three.

    Defoe has top-scored with seven goals in the league this season, while Patrick van Aanholt (two) and Victor Anichebe (three) are the only other players in a Sunderland shirt to have found the net in the first 12 games of the campaign.

    Moyes will relish this fixture more than any other having managed Liverpool's fiercest rivals Everton and Manchester United, but he has won only five and drawn eight of his 28 meetings against Saturday's opponents.

    Liverpool Team News

    Adam Lallana will spend a second successive game on the sidelines after Jurgen Klopp said the midfielder would miss the next "two or three games" with a groin injury following last weekend's 0-0 draw against Southampton.

    The only other Liverpool player currently on the treatment table is Danny Ings, who was ruled out for the remainder of the season in November after sustaining a knee injury in the EFL Cup win over Tottenham.

    Both Joe Gomez and Sheyi Ojo are stepping up their recoveries from long-term injuries with Gomez playing 90 minutes for Liverpool's U23s in their 4-0 win over Burnley on Wednesday evening.

    Ojo returned to outdoor training at Melwood on October 31, after missing the first three months of the season with a back injury, but he will only be eased back into first-team action.

    Sunderland Team News

    Jason Denayer is a slight doubt for David Moyes' side after the Belgian midfielder sustained a hamstring niggle in last weekend's 3-0 win over Hull which forced him to be substituted in the dying minutes.

    Lee Cattermole will be out for four months after undergoing surgery in the United States to repair a torn hip cartiliage, while Jack Rodwell and Jan Kirchhoff are expected to sit the match out with hamstring injuries.

    The fixture has also come too soon for Fabio Borini, who misses the game with a groin strain, although the Italian forward could make his return against Leicester City next weekend.

    Sebastian Larsson is also close to a return after three months out with a frayed knee ligament injury but the Swedish international lacks match fitness after only returning to full training a little over three weeks ago. 

    Head-to-head

    Sunderland have won at Anfield in the league only twice in the past 80 years, both times in the early 1980s by a 1-0 scoreline, while a 2-0 win in an FA Cup tie in 1961 was their only other win in that period.

    The Black Cats have not fared much better at home either, winning on only three occasions in the last 55 years, and their last victory came in March 2012 when Nicklas Bendtner scored the only goal of the game.

    Liverpool have dominated the head-to-head in the Premier League era, winning 19 and drawing 10 out of 32 matches played in all competitions, although they were held to a 2-2 draw at Anfield in February 2016.

    In a match-up first contested in 1894, Jurgen Klopp's side have also dominated the overall head-to-head with 78 wins to Sunderland's 52, while 38 matches have ended in draws.

    Score Prediction

    Liverpool 4-1 Sunderland
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    Item Reviewed: Liverpool vs Sunderland Match Preview Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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