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Dublin: 10°C Tuesday 11 May 2021


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AT THE MOMENT, every week seems to be defining one for Liverpool but after securing back-to-back Premier League wins over Stoke and Leicester, Brendan Rodgers’ side have another crucial couple of days ahead.

The do-or-die Champions League tie against Basel is on the horizon but first up is the visit of Sunderland to Anfield. The Reds remain five points adrift of the top four and can ill-afford to fall further behind as we enter the busy festive period.

Send us your thoughts and comments on this afternoon’s game. E-mail, tweet us @thescore_iefind us on Facebook, or leave a comment below.

Is Liverpool’s mini-revival a false dawn or can Brendan Rodgers’ side continue their march up the standings? All the focus this week has been on their mercurial skipper Steven Gerrard and the uncertainty over his future but the 34-year-old provided a timely reminder of his enduring worth to the Reds with a talismanic display during the week against Leicester.

That win in the Midlands was Liverpool’s second in the space of four days after narrowly overcoming Stoke this day last week. Now, with Sunderland the visitors, they can move themselves within a couple of points of those coveted Champions League berths with a third straight Premier League win. The Black Cats will have other ideas, however.

The visitors, meanwhile, have had a mixed seven days. Gus Poyet’s side haven’t had it easy with fixtures against Chelsea, Man City and now a trip to Merseyside but having held the leaders to a goalless draw last weekend, the Black Cats put in an abject display against City.

They currently sit 14th in the table but just two points from safety and with the bottom half of the Premier League already congested, Poyet will be all too aware of the need to put as many points on the board as possible to avoid being dragged into a relegation dogfight.

BREAKING TEAM NEWS: Steven Gerrard has been once again rested by Brendan Rodgers and must settle for a place on the bench. Full team news to follow…

So, what do you make of that Liverpool team? Two changes from that side that won midweek with Gerrard and Manquillo dropping out and Coutinho and Moreno coming in.

And your Sunderland team for this afternoon with John O’Shea once again skipper…

In the day’s early kick-off, Newcastle have taken the lead against leaders Chelsea through Papiss Cisse at St. James’ Park. Jose Mourinho’s side are unbeaten so far this season but that record is on the line with just 20 minutes remaining.

Having seen the teams, what are your predictions for this afternoon? Liverpool have won five and lost only one of their last nine Premier League meetings with today’s opponents while the Black Cats have won none of their last 15 league trips to Anfield.

With Steven Gerrard on the bench, the onus will be on Jordan Henderson and Philipe Coutinho to dictate proceedings in the engine room. Lucas will sit deep and protect what has been a vulnerable rearguard this season while Rickie Lambert will once again lead the line in the absence of Daniel Sturridge and Mario Balotelli.

It’s all happening at St. James’ Park with Newcastle, who are now down to ten men after Steven Taylor’s dismissal, doubling their advantage through Cisse before Didier Drogba responded for the visitors immediately.

Sunderland haven’t won in four games but before Wednesday’s heavy defeat to Man City, they had drawn their three previous outings.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Sunderland v Manchester City - Stadium of Light

Just ten minutes until kick-off at Anfield. Here are the Liverpool players arriving a little earlier, all looking very serious and in the ‘right frame of mind’…

Source: Liverpool FC/Vine

It appears Sunderland will be wearing their all blue away kit this afternoon. Speaking of sides playing in blue, Chelsea’s unbeaten start to this season has been ended by Newcastle at St. James’ Park.

B4LcawqCIAAXSzY Source: SunderlandAFC/Twitter


The teams are gathering in the tunnel with Jordan Henderson – who is playing against his former employers – preparing to lead Liverpool out as captain. Just looking at each sides’ bench and there is plenty of quality available to Rodgers and Poyet should they require it. For Liverpool, Joe Allen and Emre Can are waiting in the wings as well as Steven Gerrard, obviously.

Sunderland, meanwhile, have Lee Cattermole, Jack Rodwell and Steven Fletcher among the replacements.

Just a recap before we get underway. Liverpool have made two changes with Manquillo and Gerrard dropping out while the visitors have made four with Liam Bridcutt, Jordi Gomez, Adam Johnsonand Jozy Altidore coming in for Cattermole, Rodwell, Buckley and Fletcher.


Sunderland, attacking the Kop in the first-half, set the ball rolling.


Right from the off, Liverpool’s vulnerability at the back has been highlighted by a straight forward diagonal ball towards Connor Wickham. The striker, as he attempted to take the ball inside Martin Skrtel, went down under the challenge with the visiting fans and players asking the question of the referee. The official waves play on, however.


Looking back, it’s hard to tell if the Slovakian defender made contact with Wickham but why would the Sunderland man go down when he had a free shot on goal from 8 yards?


Things have just settled down now with Liverpool enjoying plenty of possession in midfield. It looks like Sunderland are content to sit in a rigid shape and try and hit their opponents on the break.


Sunderland have started positively and are throwing bodies forward in attack. With four blue shirts in the box, Seb Larsson’s delivery was over hit, however, as the ball trickles out for a throw-in on the far side.


Rodgers has spoken about the need to start games quickly at home but the Reds have been sloppy in the opening exchanges here. Philipe Coutinho is the latest player to give the ball away under no pressure, much to the annoyance of the home fans.


When Liverpool are in possession, the Black Cats are remaining compact and forcing the hosts to go wide. Coutinho is operating in the playmaker role but is finding space between the lines hard to come by with Liam Bridcutt protecting his back four.


Jordi Gomez has had the game’s first shot in anger with a right-footed effort that was always arrowing wide of the target. After that Sunderland attack, Jordan Henderson tried to rally his troops with a few words of inspiration.


Mamadou Sakho remains sidelined with a thigh injury but he’s supporting his team mates nonetheless.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Liverpool v Sunderland - Anfield Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images


The home fans are becoming increasingly frustrated as Sunderland’s possession increases to 62% in the opening quarter. The visitors have been extremely comfortable in possession and in defence with Liverpool yet to click into gear.


Much better from Liverpool. Sterling comes in-field with possession before opening the game up with a perfectly weighted ball out to Adam Lallana. The England international makes room to cross but his delivery his headed wide by Rickie Lambert, who did well to rise above John O’Shea.


Liverpool are beginning to take a stranglehold now. Coutinho goes on a mazy run down the left before cutting inside and attempting to catch Costel Pantilimon off-guard with a snapshot but the goalkeeper gets down well at his near post to make a comfortable save.


Now it’s Liverpool’s turn to feel aggrieved with Neil Swarbrick’s decision. Sterling played a delightful one-two with Henderson but was clearly blocked by Bridcutt but the referee waved away the appeals.


Incredible passage of play as Anthony Réveillère decides to let the ball roll out of play, not realising his team mate Bridcutt had clearly played it last. Fortunately for the defender, Liverpool don’t make anything of the resulting corner.


Throughout the opening half an hour, the only name on the Liverpool fans’ lips has been that of their fabled captain. In his absence, the hosts have slowly warmed to the task but Sunderland will be undoubtedly the happier of the two sides thus far.


Again, Connor Wickham goes to ground in the area but once more, his appeals fall on deaf ears. The striker, operating on the left flank this afternoon, embarked on a driving run into the box but was tagged all the way by Lucas and when he ran out of space decided to hit the deck.


Just seven minutes until the break and it remains goalless. There is a palpable air of tension around Anfield as Sunderland’s game plan is working to perfection so far. Meanwhile, Santiago Vergini has just been booked – the first of the match – for tugging on the shirt of Sterling as the winger was looking to launch a counter-attack.

With the right-back on a caution, that’s an avenue Liverpool should look to exploit after the interval.


Liverpool are enjoying a period of concerted pressure but they’re not going anywhere with it. Sunderland are sitting tight and withstanding whatever the Reds throw at them with significant ease.


We’ll have one additional minute at the end of this first period.


CHANCE! What an opportunity for Sunderland. Wes Brown gets away from Kolo Toure but heads over the bar from six yards out. That was a let-off for the hosts.

And there goes the half-time whistle. Sunderland will be pleased with their first-half work but you can’t help feeling they should have taken the lead with the last kick off the opening period. Liverpool will have to up their game if they are to make it three Premier League games on the bounce.


We’re back underway at Anfield with neither manager making a change. Liverpool have started on the front foot and straight away force a corner after Coutinho’s shot was deflected behind. Sunderland deal with the set-piece comfortably.

Sunderland are defending in numbers, making it difficult for Liverpool to pick the lock. The hosts have, however, make a bright start to this second-half and look far livelier than they did before the interval.


For the first time this half, Liverpool’s defence have been put under a bit of pressure. From a free-kick, John O’Shea heads goal wards and with Altidore ready to pounce, Skrtel intervenes. From the resulting corner, the ball drops to Connor Wickham at the back post but his sweetly struck volley goes agonosingly wide of the upright.


Raheem Sterling has been marshaled well by Sunderland thus far but on the few occasions he’s found a pocket of space, the winger has looked dangerous.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Liverpool v Sunderland - Anfield Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images


Wickham is getting closer. Again, a cross makes its way to the striker and after Glen Johnson stood off, Wickham fired in a low effort but a slight deflection took it into the side netting. Liverpool manage to deal with the resulting set-piece but Sunderland are looking the more likely at the moment.


Sunderland have the bit between their teeth now. Another cross towards the back post has Johnson backpedaling but he does well to clear the danger under pressure from Wickham. No sign of Gerrard warming up just yet, perhaps he’s finding the Anfield bench rather comfortable.


That was cynical from Liam Bridcutt. After Sunderland gifted Sterling possession on the halfway line, the speedy winger was taken out by Bridcutt just outside the area. Unsurprisingly, the referee brandished a yellow card but Henderson skies the free-kick high and wide.


We have a shot on target! More good work from Sterling creates the opening for Lucas to put his laces through the ball but his effort is straight at Pantilimon, who makes a comfortable save. Moments later, Coutinho drops the shoulder to cut inside but his dipping effort goes just over the bar.


The noise levels inside Anfield rise as Steven Gerrard takes off his tracksuit and is preparing to come on.


Adam Lallana is the man to make way as the Kop rise in unison to welcome their talismanic captain. He seems to be slotting in just behind Rickie Lambert.


Time for Sunderland to make a couple of changes. Lee Cattermole is introduced by Gus Poyet to add some steel to the midfield while Altidore is replaced by Alvarez.

It was a good day’s work for Altidore who put in a good shift but his barren run on front of goal in the Premier League goes on.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Liverpool v Sunderland - Anfield Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images


Steven Gerrard has made an instant impression. First, he whips in a free-kick from the left which causes a bit of trouble for the Sunderland ‘keeper before a trademark pass instigates an attack which sees Bridcutt making a flying block to deny Coutinho.


Sunderland are firmly on the back foot now with the Kop urging their side on with just 15 minutes remaining. The Black Cats are, however, capable of pouncing on the counterattack but on this occasion, Cattermole’s pass evades Wickham.


Lazar Markovic is about to be introduced by Brendan Rodgers as he gambles and looks for a much-needed winner.


Incredible run from Sterling! He picks up possession deep inside his own half and weaves his way through numerous Sunderland challenges before slipping in Coutinho but the Brazilian, once again, fires straight at the goalkeeper. It is his last involvement as he is the one to make way for Markovic.


The decibel levels have increased in the last few minutes as Liverpool continue to probe for a winner. Minutes after coming on for Johnson, Will Buckley is booked for tugging back Sterling but Gerrard’s delivery is straight into the grateful arms of Pantilimon.


At the other end, Simon Mingolet is forced into action by a stinging Gomez effort from range. The Belgian goalkeeper did well to move his feet and make the save but it was one you would expect him to make.


Sterling goes down under the challenge of Wes Brown but for the third time this afternoon, Neil Swarbrick feels there was nothing in it. To be fair to the official, he’s got all the big decisions spot-on with replays suggesting Sterling went down too easily.



Raheem Sterling is causing chaos in the Sunderland area. This time he tees-up Jordan Henderson but the former Sunderland man fires high and wide. The visitors are holding on slightly here.


So close! Sterling’s cross is headed back across goal by Lambert and after Markovic’s tame effort was blocked, it very nearly fell to Gerrard to fire home but a Sunderland body got in the way.


Gerrard and Liverpool are pushing for another late, late winner.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Liverpool v Sunderland - Anfield Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images


There will be three minutes added time. Can Liverpool break down this Sunderland rearguard?


The hosts are incensed after the referee awarded a goal kick when it looked like Moreno’s cross had flicked a blue shirt on its way out. Time is running out.

Full-time! Sunderland withstand the late pressure and hold out for a hard-earned point.

Sunderland have now drawn with Liverpool, Chelsea and Everton in the last few weeks and it was another resolute performance by Gus Poyet’s side. There were rigid in defence while also offering plenty going forward and could, and probably should, have come away with more than a point but spurned a couple of chances.

Liverpool, meanwhile, will reflect on another sub-standard performance. It was only when Steven Gerrard was introduced with less than half an hour remaining did the hosts come to life and start to pose Sunderland any problems.

Raheem Sterling was, however, superb throughout but none of his team mates were on the same wave length. The Reds remain on 21 points but this is a missed opportunity to close the gap on United, who don’t play until Monday.

That’s all for our live football coverage this afternoon but you can catch-up on all of the Premier League action on throughout the evening with Manchester City against Everton to come at 5.30pm.

You can follow all of Munster’s heavyweight clash with Clermont at Thomond Park with Will Slattery here.

About the author:

Ryan Bailey