A Steven Gerrard brace on Monday night booked Liverpool’s place into the fourth round of the FA Cup with a 2-1 win at League Two opponents AFC Wimbledon.
The form guide says Liverpool are unbeaten in their last six, winning four, but their performances have not been as good as it sounds. Two of these victories have come in the cup against lower opposition, whilst in the league two of their last three fixtures have come against the bottom two sides.
Sunderland are winless in their last six Premier League matches at the Stadium of Light and were beaten 3-1 by out-of-form Hull City on Boxing Day. Gus Poyet’s side start the weekend three points above the relegation zone.
Anthony Réveillère has been out for the past four league games with a calf injury, but first-choice left-back Patrick van Aanholt returned at the weekend to score the winner versus Leeds Untied in the FA Cup.
Sebastián Coates featured in a couple of games during the busy festive period but is ineligible to face his parent club this weekend.
Lee Cattermole could make his return this weekend from a groin injury that forced him to miss the 3-2 loss at Manchester City on New Year’s Day.
Jack Rodwell has played one minute in the Premier League since the start of December but could also make his return this weekend should Gus Poyet select the former Evertonian.
Simon Mignolet was at fault for Wimbledon’s goal on Monday night and Brad Jones could be fit again after a thigh injury, which would leave Brendan Rodgers with an interesting choice to make.
Glen Johnson and Jon Flanagan are the only injuries in defence and these two have been out for a few weeks now.
Adam Lallana could be out for up to six weeks with a thigh injury picked up in New Year’s Day’s 2-2 draw with Leicester City. A big loss for the Reds who failed to land Xherdan Shaqiri on Thursday with the Swiss international opting for Internazionale instead.
Joe Allen is also ruled out and Daniel Sturridge is still not ready to make his return.
Gus Poyet uses a 4-1-4-1 formation. Liam Bridcutt is the fittest of his holding midfielders with both Lee Cattermole and Jack Rodwell sidelined recently. Patrick van Aanholt is ready to return in defence whilst Steven Fletcher is about their only striker who knows where the back of the net is.
Brendan Rodgers has been sticking with his 3-4-3 formation recently, maintaining the majority of possession in each game. The back three have been the same with the exception of when Martin Škrtel was suspended. Emre Can has been playing the right centre-back role. Lucas offers protection in front of them, pushing Jordan Henderson out on the right. Alberto Moreno offers a better attacking threat than he does offensively on the opposite flank. Lazar Marković in for the injured Adam Lallana as part of the front three.
Raheem Sterling vs Wes Brown
Raheem Sterling has not been amongst many of the goals of late despite being Liverpool’s main striker. We had been expecting him to get on the scoresheet versus Leicester City’s slow defence but failed to do so. Second time lucky for the SoccerLens team? Wes Brown and John O’Shea are a slow duo that get hurt by pace. Brown is error prone so surely Sterling is going to net this weekend, right?
Philippe Coutinho vs Santiago Vergini
We’re not a fan of the Sunderland right-back and Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho has shown some good form of late. This is a very favourable matchup for the Brazilian and we think he’ll deliver the goods to help Liverpool to victory. He’s a playmaker and enjoys cutting inside to get a shot away on goal. Look out for Coutinho to do just that this weekend against one of the Premier League’s poorest full-backs.
Adam Johnson vs Alberto Moreno
Adam Johnson scored a late winner versus Newcastle before Christmas and offers a good threat down the right wing for the home side. Alberto Moreno loves to bomb forward and doesn’t do a great job with defending, so look out for the Sunderland man to try hurt Liverpool on a counter attack and exploit the space left behind by their left wingback.
Prediction: Sunderland 1-2 Liverpool
Neither team have greatly impressed us of late but Liverpool have picked up more points recently. Expecting the Reds to obtain more possession in this game, their front three, supported by Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson should be capable of outscoring Sunderland and a defence that has conceded eight goals in their last three Premier League game at home.