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Premier League

  • 15 September 2012
  • • 17:30
  • • Stadium of Light, Sunderland
  • Referee: M. Atkinson
  • • Attendance: 41997
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Sunderland - Liverpool Preview: Rodgers targeting first league win as Reds boss

The Northern Irishman faces up against his compatriot Martin O'Neill and will hope for a victory which could ignite the Merseyside season after a poor start

  PROBABLE LINE-UPS


SUNDERLAND


Mignolet
Gardner, O'Shea, Cuellar, Rose
Larsson, Sessegnon, Cattermole, A.Johnson
Saha, Fletcher.

LIVERPOOL


Reina
G. Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Enrique
Gerrard, Allen, Sahin
Downing, Suarez, Sterling.

Still sidelined with knee and ankle problems respectively, Wes Brown and Phil Bardsley will not play a part in this fixture, leaving Craig Gardner to take on defensive duties again.

At the other end of the pitch it's a tough call for Martin O'Neill. Steven Fletcher is sure to keep his place in the team after scoring two goals against Swansea on his league debut for the Black Cats a fortnight ago, and fellow new arrival Louis Saha could be the man to partner the former Wolves striker up front.

For the visitors, Pepe Reina is set to keep his place in goal despite a somewhat shaky performance against Arsenal in the Reds' last league fixture. Brendan Rodgers will want to keep a settled back four but could be forced in to a change, however, if Jose Enrique fails to prove his fitness in time.

Elsewhere, fresh from his excursions with the England squad, Raheem Sterling may well form part of an attacking trio which will also include Luis Suarez and Stewart Downing, the former Villa man getting the nod ahead of the so far ineffective Fabio Borini.

Lucas Leiva (thigh) remains a long-term absentee for the Reds.

  DID YOU KNOW?
  • The last time these two sides met a total of 28 fouls were made, yet each team managed to escape the contest with just one yellow card each.
  • When this fixture was played back in October 2009, Sunderland were somewhat fortunate victors after Darren Bent's strike deflected off a beachball before finding the back of the net.
  • Despite being one of the best defensive units in the league last season, only one team (QPR) has conceded more than Liverpool so far this season.
  • Only Darren Bent and Kevin Phillips have managed to score more than one Premier League goal against the Reds for Sunderland.
  • Of the last 10 league meetings between these two sides, Sunderland have emerged victorious just twice, with both those wins coming at the Stadium of Light.
  • Martin O’Neill (pictured right) has coached a team 17 times against Liverpool in the Premier League, winning six, drawing six and losing five.
  • The loss to Arsenal a fortnight ago was Liverpool's 200th defeat in Premier League history.

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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
22Simon MignoletGoalkeeper
3Danny RoseMidfielder
16John O'SheaDefender
24Carlos Javier CuéllarDefender
33Lee CattermoleMidfielder
7Sebastian LarssonMidfielder
8Craig GardnerMidfielder
14Jack ColbackMidfielder
-James McCleanMidfielder
28Stéphane SessegnonMidfielder
9Steven FletcherStriker
20Keiren WestwoodGoalkeeper
27Matthew Kilgallon Defender
19Titus BrambleDefender
7David MeylerMidfielder
10Fraizer CampbellStriker
10Dong-Won JiStriker
8Louis SahaStriker
25Pepe ReinaGoalkeeper
2Glen JohnsonDefender
5Daniel AggerDefender
34Martin KellyDefender
37Martin SkrtelDefender
8Steven GerrardMidfielder
24Joe AllenMidfielder
31Raheem SterlingMidfielder
8Jonjo ShelveyMidfielder
7Luis SuárezStriker
31Fabio BoriniStriker
1Bradley JonesGoalkeeper
3José EnriqueDefender
23Jamie CarragherDefender
18Nuri SahinMidfielder
14Jordan HendersonMidfielder
19Stewart DowningMidfielder
11Oussama AssaidiStriker
Players to Watch
Steven Fletcher
Steven Fletcher
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 9
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
The club's record signing has hit the ground running, scoring twice on his league debut for Sunderland against Swansea, and he will be keen to further add to his tally to ensure he lives up to his hefty price-tag.

The 25-year-old will be well aware of Liverpool's defensive frailities so far this term and won't hesitate to test Pepe Reina in goal, should the opportunity present itself.
Steven Gerrard
Steven Gerrard
Position: Midfielder
Squad Number: 8
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
With emotions running high at the club recently due to the off-field matters, the responsibility of making sure the team stay focused lays with their iconic midfield maestro.

The Reds are in desperate need of a big performance from their captain on Saturday, and when the Anfield faithful call out for a hero - more often than not it is Gerrard who answers the call.
Prediction
Do not expect defences to be on top in this encounter. Suarez, Sterling and Downing will be looking to exploit Sunderland's makeshift back-line and should get every opportunity to do so unless the Black Cats manage to stifle the creativity of Joe Allen and Nuri Sahin.

The home side, however, will also fancy their chances in front of goal and will look to Sebastian Larsson as an outlet in the hope that the Swedish winger will be able to orchestrate some counter attacking football.
Editor's Prediction

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