After a 1 week hiatus that Premier League fans have been just going on and on about, Liverpool FC will be heading to the Stadium of Light for a potentially tricky match against the unpredictable Sunderland.
Form-wise, Sunderland have the upper hand as they managed to take a point each from their games against Arsenal and Swansea City. Liverpool have had a tough start to the new campaign and find themselves lingering in the relegation zone after collecting just 1 point from 3 games.
Sunderland have two big threats on the attacking front; in Sebastian Larsson (who scored the equalizer against the Reds in our season opener last season) and Steven Fletcher they have two potent attacking threats up front. Fletcher is their record signing and has already opened his account for the Black Cats, scoring twice on his club debut against Rodgers’ ex-club Swansea City.
In the middle you have James McClean for Sunderland, and he will also be a threat. Very dynamic and crafty as well, he will pose a big threat from the midfield. He has been earning a lot of rave reviews for his performances for Sunderland, so he will definitely be one to watch out for in this tie.
In their defence they have new recruit Carlos Cuellar from Aston Villa who makes for a splendid addition to the Sunderland outfit, along with ex-Manchester United defender John O’Shea (who has the most annoying shots-to-goal ratio, especially against the Reds). They managed to hold Arsenal FC to a draw on opening day, so they will be tough to break down as well.
You can’t help but feel that the game plan for Liverpool nowadays is to just pass the ball to Luis Suarez, and then get him to hopefully find the back of the net despite his woeful finishing. It just feels that way. As always, Liverpool will be depending on him to try and get a goal.
Fabio Borini is likely to start either alongside Suarez or up top. Raheem Sterling is in contention to start this game, and I reckon he might just make the team, playing on the opposite flank of Borini/Suarez, and this will make for more fluid attacking movement, as Sterling can really bring a lot of penetration to this attack, especially with his pace.
Lucas Leiva remains out injured, and I reckon it will be a very similar set-up to the one as seen against Arsenal at Anfield just less than two weeks ago.
I can’t help but say that we’ll never be successful with the Tiki-taka if Steven Gerrard keeps trying to do everything by himself again. It just won’t work. He needs to not be so urgent with his passing and just learn to be a bit more patient with his game.
Tiki-taka is all about passing the ball about, creating the gaps, and then exploiting them with a run into those spaces. That’s how it is supposed to be played. We just can’t rush the passing. Barcelona don’t even do it when they’re 2 down with 20 minutes to go.
They maintain rhythm. They dictate play. And that’s what we really need to learn how to do. A game against Sunderland would be a great opportunity to see if this Liverpool side have learnt anything from their first two Premier League games of the season.