Saturday, September 15, 2012

Match Preview: Sunderland v Liverpool

Liverpool must focus on on-field matters following an emotional week which saw the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel's report into the 1989 disaster.

The Reds travel to the Stadium of Light to take on Sunderland in the Saturday evening kick-off.

Both sides will be going all out to notch their first Premier League win of the campaign.

The Black Cats followed-up a creditable goalless draw at Arsenal with a 2-2 stalemate at Swansea.

Sandwiched between those draws was a 2-0 Capital One Cup victory over Morecambe and now back on home soil, Martin O'Neil's side will be looking to push on against the Reds and post their first win in 11 league attempts stretching back to last term.

Liverpool has taken just one point from their opening three league games under new boss Brendan Rodgers.

The Reds opened with a 3-0 loss at West Brom, then held champions Manchester City 2-2 at home before slipping to a 2-0 defeat to the Gunners at Anfield.

But the Reds have fared better in Europe, seeing-off Gomel and Hearts to progress into the group stages of the Europa League.

Sunderland winger Adam Johnson is battling to retain his place in the starting line-up after returning injured from international duty.

The 25-year-old missed England's World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine with a thigh problem and will only be considered if he emerges unscathed from training on Friday.

Full-back Danny Rose could make his debut for the club and midfielder David Vaughan, who played 45 minutes for Wales in their 6-1 defeat in Serbia on Tuesday night after recovering from an ankle injury, may figure, while defenders Phil Bardsley (also ankle) and Wes Brown (knee) are making good progress, but are well short of match fitness.

Left-back Jose Enrique's knee injury will be assessed ahead of the Reds' trip to Sunderland.

The Spaniard has been training this week after the recurrence of a problem which has dogged him since the start of the season.

Midfielder Joe Allen has recovered from illness which disrupted his international duty while manager Rodgers is confident Luis Suarez and Sebastian Coates will be fine after international duty having travelled back from South America.

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