Dicko: “Liverpool come into this re-arranged midweek fixture full of confidence after six wins on the bounce, including an impressive 3-0 away victory at rivals Manchester United, has seen Brendan Rodgers’ side firmly establish themselves as title contenders.
Those six consecutive league wins have plundered 24 goals, thanks to the brilliance of Sturridge and Suarez – the latter scoring a hat-trick in Liverpool’s last outing away at Cardiff.
Now on 28 league goals for the season, Luis Suarez now only needs four more goals from eight matches to have scored the most ever Premier League goals in a 38-game season with Ronaldo currently level with Shearer on 31. Even more impressively for the Uruguayan is that he missed the first five fixtures through suspension and hasn’t scored a single penalty to achieve his current feat of 28 goals.
No doubt he will be looking to put his name down in Premier League history books and his conquest restarts on Wednesday night under the flood-lights at Anfield.”
Robbo: “Three more points on the board after Cardiff. Three more points in aid of the title challenge.
It’s been established for weeks now that Liverpool’s title challenge is real. Very real. The players know it, the manager knows it and just about everyone with an interest in the league knows it.
‘Eight cup finals.’ That’s how this charge, this very real charge, is being talked about. Eight cup finals away from a first league title in more than 20 years. Win these last eight games and we’ve (probably) done it. At long last, we’ve (probably) done it.”
Dicko: “Gus Poyet’s Sunderland currently sit in the relegation places in the league, having failed to register a win in all competitions since a 1-0 FA Cup 5th round victory over Southampton on February 15th.
On-loan Liverpool striker Fabio Borini scored the first goal of the League Cup Final, however it was not enough to give Sunderland the victory and the Italian is ineligible to play against his parent club which means Altidore will lead the line at Anfield, with Fletcher sidelined through injury.
Liverpool ran out 3-1 winners at the Stadium of Light earlier in the season and last season’s corresponding fixture ended 3-0 to Liverpool, with Luis Suarez scoring twice in both the aforementioned fixtures.”
Robbo: “The next cup final is against Sunderland. Liverpool are a better team than Sunderland. Anything other than a Liverpool win will be seen as points dropped – a cup final lost.
But Sunderland are playing for their own prize. This is one of their own cup finals. They want to win their cup finals just as much as we do. They need to win their cup finals even more than we do.
Sunderland will come to Anfield under immense pressure, having lost two ‘must win’ games against fellow relegation candidates Crystal Palace and Norwich City in the last two weeks.
Fabio Borini has established himself as a Sunderland fan-favourite since joining the Black Cats on-loan but he’ll be ineligible to play against his parent club. This has forced Sunderland to re-call Connor Wickham from his loan at Leeds. He’s expected to lead the Sunderland attack with Jozy Altidore and Steven Fletcher both being out of favour.
Sunderland’s starting left-back, Marcos Alonso, was sent-off at the weekend – meaning that ex-Red Andrea Dossena is likely to make one more appearance at Anfield.”
Dicko: “Jose Enrique is likely to miss the rest of the season with an injury that has seen him travel to the United States to seek specialist treatment, however he is the only injury concern Rodgers must contend with. His biggest decision however, is whether to reinstate Mamadou Sakho back into the starting side at the expense of Daniel Agger, with the Frenchman watching the two previous wins from the bench.
Raheem Sterling is likely to be reinstated into the starting side at either the expensive of Joe Allen, but more likely Philippe Coutinho, as Johnson, Flanagan, Skrtel, Gerrard & Henderson should all retain their places.
A potential ‘banana skin’ for Liverpool, as nothing less than a win would douse talk of a returning league title to Anfield. However, victory would leave the Merseysiders sat just a point behind leaders Chelsea and that should be the incentive for Brendan Rodgers and his team with Mourinho’s men yet to visit Anfield.
At Anfield, Liverpool have only lost once this season and being the most in-form team in the league a home victory is certainly on the cards. Expect goals – especially from at least one of Suarez and Sturridge as well as an electrifying Anfield atmosphere as everyone surrounding the club begins to start dreaming…”
Robbo: “Rodgers will have the luxury of a full squad available to pick from, Enrique and Coates aside of course, as Lucas Leiva and Mamadou Sakho have both returned from injury. Daniel Agger was hardly convincing against Cardiff and may be left out to accommodate Sakho in defence.
With the exception of Sakho coming in for Agger, the line-up should remain the same as against Cardiff. Liverpool have experimented with a midfield diamond recently, to great effect. Raheem Sterling played at the head of this diamond in the 3-0 win over Manchester United but Phillipe Coutinho took his place last week. Rodgers could go with either player against Sunderland.
It goes without saying that this match is massive. If Liverpool win, they’re seven cup finals away from glory. If Liverpool lose, the title challenge is not necessarily over but it is a huge opportunity wasted and some crucial ground will be lost. At this stage of the season, the margin for error contracts with each passing week.”
Dicko: Liverpool 4-1 Sunderland.
Robbo: Liverpool 3-0 Sunderland
Line up Predictions
Dicko: Liverpool – Mignolet; Johnson, Skrtel, Sakho, Flanagan; Gerrard; Henderson, Allen; Sterling; Suarez, Sturridge.
Sunderland – Mannone; Bardsley, O’Shea, Brown, Vergini; Bridcutt, Cattermole; Johnson, Ki, Larsson; Altidore.
Robbo: Liverpool – Mignolet, Flanagan, Sakho, Skrtel, Johnson; Gerrard, Allen, Henderson, Coutinho; Sturridge, Suarez.
Sunderland – Mannone, Dossena, O’Shea, Brown, Bardsley; Cattermole, Ki, Colback; Johnson, Wickham, Giaccherini.
1. Sturridge and Suarez both to score anytime.
2. Liverpool to win and both teams to score.
3. Cattermole and Flanagan to get booked.
4. Over 3.5 goals.
5. Gerrard to score and Liverpool to win.
1. Suarez to score anytime
2. Sturridge first goalscorer
3. Liverpool to win
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