12:15pm EST, live in the US on FSC
Last 4 head-to-head:
2-0 Liverpool (a) 08.25.07
2-0 Liverpool (a) 11.30.05
1-0 Liverpool (h) 08.20.05
2-1 Sunderland (a) 12.15.02
Last 3 matches:
Liverpool: 0-1 West Ham (a); 5-2 Havant (h); 2-2 Villa (h)
Sunderland: 2-0 Brum (h); 0-2 Spurs (a); 2-0 Pompey (h)
Liverpool: Torres 11; Gerrard 7; Babel, Benayoun, Kuyt, Voronin 3; Alonso 2; Crouch, Hyypia, Sissoko 1
Sunderland: Jones 5; Chopra, Richardson 3; Higgenbottom, Leadbitter, Murphy, Wallace 2; John, Miller, Prica, Stokes, Yorke 1
Referee: Rob Styles
Awesome. It’s the first Liverpool game he’s in charge of since the Chelsea debacle.
Guess at a squad:
Finnan Carragher Hyypia Riise
Benayoun Gerrard Babel
I usually guess what I think Benitez will do instead of what I'd like to see, but I've little idea what Benitez will do with the way the team's playing anyway. So this is what I'd like to see.
Please play the players who are remotely "in form."
I understand the defense hasn't been at its best, but there are few other options along the back four.
Neither Kuyt nor Crouch has impressed lately (although Crouch has at least been tallying goals), while Benayoun was at his best recently playing further forward and cutting in centrally behind Crouch against Havant.
This formation would allow Gerrard, Yossi, and Babel to play advanced attacking roles, and they’d be able to switch positions and strike from different angles.
I understand it looks like another five-man midfield at home against a relegation struggler, but there would be 4 goal threats on the pitch (with Lucas able to get forward as well), although admittedly Liverpool wouldn't be the strongest out wide. But what else is new?
We’ve now gone through a full month with Liverpool winless in the New Year. I’m thoroughly sick of writing that this could be the game where Liverpool turns the corner in these previews, because we’ve seen little promise of that happening over the last 7 matches (I’m not counting home matches against opposition from at least two divisions below Liverpool).
At this rate, I may have to move back to London. The last time Liverpool had a streak anything like this in the league was under Houllier: 11 games winless from November 9th 2002 to January 11th 2003. I got to London on the 16th; Liverpool beat Southampton away on the 18th. I’m just saying.
Benitez, again, says what needs to be said in his pre-match comments: “Let’s see some pride.” Hopefully it will fire the players up and we’ll see a better tempo to start the match than in recent outings. Had Liverpool played with passion and left everything on the pitch, this winless streak would be far easier to stomach. But seeing apathetic performances from key players during disappointing results, with luck not on Liverpool’s side and the much-discussed off-field friction to complete the package, is just soul crushing for fans.
"The only way things will get better for us is if we make it happen."
Please, heed Rafa.