Carling Cup champions Liverpool travel to the Stadium of Light to face Sunderland on Saturday hoping to keep their slim hopes of a top four finish alive this season. Kick-Off 15:00
Liverpool are ten points behind 4th place Arsenal in the table after suffering their first home defeat of the season to the Gunners last weekend and failure to beat an improving Sunderland side under Martin O’Neill would surely end hopes of Champions League football returning to Anfield next season. Sunderland have won four out of their six home games in the Premier League since Martin O’Neill took over and the Northern Ireland native has also guided Sunderland to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.
Sunderland will feel hard done by after conceding a last minute equalizer to rivals Newcastle last weekend but a win on Saturday would see them close the gap on their opponents to two points in the Premier League table.
Sunderland will have to deal with the suspensions of Stephane Sessegnon and Lee Cattermole after both were sent off during the draw at Newcastle with Sessegnon handed a three-game ban and Cattermole with a four-match suspension. David Vaughan and recent England call-up Fraizer Campbell look set to replace the duo. Sunderland will be boasted with the news that John O’Shea has been passed fit to play despite fracturing his wrist last weekend.
Kieran Richardson is a major doubt for the clash with a calf muscle strain while Kieron Westwood, Wes Brown and Titus Bramble remain sidelined for the Black Cats.
Glen Johnson and Steven Gerrard returned to training this week for Liverpool and both could feature in the match after the pair missed the defeat to Arsenal after picking up injuries on international duty. Jamie Carragher looks set to continue in defence after Daniel Agger was ruled out with a rib injury.
Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish will have to decide who partners Luis Suarez in the starting line-up with Andy Carroll and Craig Bellamy both ready to return after the pair were on the bench against Arsenal last weekend.
Sunderland: Mignolet, Bardsley, O’Shea, Turner, Bridge, Larsson, Vaughan, Gardner, McClean, Campbell, Bendtner.
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel, Enrique, Henderson, Gerrard, Spearing, Downing, Suarez, Bellamy.
Watch Kenny Dalglish talk about the game: