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Liverpool have been in control of possession for the last five minutes at the Stadium of Light. Philippe Coutinho is the main man involved, causing trouble with his neat footwork around the edge of the penalty area, and now he tees up Steven Gerrard to win a corner - which Gerrard gets on the end of but miscues his shot.
Graeme Bailey reports: “Sunderland fans were silenced early on by Lazar Markovic's goal, but encouraged by their first forays into the Liverpool box the noise is increasing now, but the home fans are still not happy - Gus Poyet looking increasingly agitated too.”
Cheers from the home fans as Fabio Borini is given a yellow card after a couple of fouls in quick succession. Sunderland have responded well to going a goal down but they’re yet to really test Simon Mignolet.
1 - Sunderland have now kept just one clean sheet in their last eight Premier League home games. Catty.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 10, 2015
GOAL: What happened to early-season LAZAR MARKOVIC and what have Liverpool done with him? The winger has started very well here and grabs a deserved goal. He runs from halfway, plays a one-two with Steven Gerrard, who is bundled over in the process, and squeezes a shot below Costel Pantilimon and into the net.
Graeme Bailey reports: “Let off for Sunderland as Lazar Markovic breaks into the box and goes down, Wes Brown clashes with him but no penalty is the decision from referee Craig Pawson - looked a spot kick.”
Live text commentator + reporter actually agreeing = DEFINITE penalty.
NO! But it should be! Lazar Markovic makes a good run to get on the end of a Philippe Coutinho throughball which the Sunderland defence fail to deal with. Wes Brown sticks out a leg and trips up the Serb. It's a clear penalty but referee Craig Pawson doesn't give anything. Big call!
Peep! Peep! Away we go at the Stadium of Light. It's an old boys' reunion as far as Liverpool are concerned - Jordan Henderson is another former Black Cat lining up for them today.
LIVE: Sunderland 0-0 Liverpool
Graeme Bailey reports: “Steven Gerrard leads out Liverpool on what could be his final ever appearance in the North East - he will be looking to provide the ammunition for Fabio Borini - who is more fondly thought of by the home fans than his own supporters.”
78% - Costel Pantilimon has the best saves to shots ratio of any Premier League goalkeeper this season. Wall.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 10, 2015
Brendan Rodgers on his indefinitely-dropped-goalkeeper-who-has-been-indefinitely-reinstated: "I think we need a goalkeeper of some sort; it's just depending on how long Brad Jones is going to be out injured. We are obviously down and have got two young inexperienced keepers behind Simon, who is only just back in the team, so we need to assess that."
Mario Balotelli and Jack Rodwell were only together at Manchester City for six months, but we sense a bromance...
Former Manchester City team-mates Jack Rodwell and Mario Balotelli share a smile in the tunnel. pic.twitter.com/4FB20PUCJ2— Sunderland AFC (@SunderlandAFC) January 10, 2015
Graeme Bailey reports: “Sunderland will give Connor Wickham a rare chance to lead the line having been deployed on the left wing in recent weeks, with neither Steven Fletcher or Jozy Altidore involved, and there is even room on the bench for Danny Graham. Interestingly Liverpool recall Fabio Borini, who is very much still wanted at the Stadium of Light following his loan spell last season.”
150 - Eden Hazard has had more touches in the opposition penalty area than any other PL player this season. Danger.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 8, 2015
Graeme Bailey reports: “A bracing North East day greets Brendan Rodgers and his troops as they face Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. Both teams are looking for their first league wins of 2015 and three points are in big demand here.”
Brendan Rodgers told the Liverpool Echo: "It was always in the plan. If we're going to maximise what we can get out of him, then he needs that bit of recovery time. A period of rest and the recuperation will do him the world of good. It's been a gruelling first half of the season for him with a lot of matches and a lot of work."
Martin Skrtel comes in for Kolo Toure, who is on Africa Cup of Nations duty, while Steven Gerrard starts his first Premier League game since confirming he’ll leave at the end of the season. It’ll be interesting to see what reception Fabio Borini gets - he agreed a deal with Sunderland last summer, made them wait for SEVEN WEEKS... and then decided to stay at Liverpool.
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