Two teams looking to cash in on their games in hand face off today at Anfield, but whereas Liverpool needs full points to keep pace with Manchester City and league-leading Chelsea, Sunderland hopes the three fewer games it’s played than the rest of the relegation field can lead the Black Cats to safety. Their battle kicks off at 4:00 p.m. ET, with broadcast on NBCSN and available via NBC Sports Live Extra.
After yesterday’s result in Manchester, Liverpool temporarily finds itself in third place, with City passing the Reds after its victory in the Manchester Derby. Brendan Rodgers’ team, currently riding a six-game winning streak, can overtake the Citizens and reduce Chelsea lead to one with a win over Sunderland. In the process, Liverpool can continue its pursue of the league goal scoring record, with its 80 goals setting a pace that will eclipse the 103 Chelsea scored under Carlo Ancelotti.
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Coming off a loss at Norwich, Sunderland has been forced to shake up a team that’s winless in league since Feb. 1. Marcos Alonso is suspended, while Fabio Borini can’t play against his parent club. Ki Sung-Yueng and Adam Johnson have been relegated to the bench, while Conor Wickham, just recalled from loan, goes starting into Gus Poyet’s starting XI.
Currently in 18th place, Sunderland has three games in hand to secure Premier League survival. Between current form and fixtures like this one, however, another year in the first division again looks in doubt. Needing to reclaim their January form, Black Cats are at the mercy of Luis Suárez and Daniel Sturridge today at Anfield..
Liverpool: Mignolet; Flanagan, Skrtel, Agger, Johnson; Gerrard, Allen, Henderson; Coutinho; Suárez, Sturridge
Subs: Jones, Sterling, Aspas, Sakho, Lucas, Cissokho, Moses
Sunderland: Mannone; Bardlsey, O’Shea, Brown, Dossena; Wickham, Vergini, Cattermile, Bridcutt, Giaccherini; Altidore
Subs: Ki, Larsson, Johnson, Colback, Roberge, Scocco, Ustari