Premiership Sunderland v Liverpool

Can they do it again? Can Roy Keane’s boys pull another big home win out of the bag after the spectacular last minute winner over Tottenham on the first day of the season? Possibly, but this will be a total different game, and promises to be a lot harder!

Keane has seen captain Dean Whitehead break down in training after a knee injury, and he could be out for anything up to a month.  Elsewhere Paul  McShane is still a major worry, but he should be able to welcome Grant Leadbitter back into the fold after a hamstring problem.

On the Liverpool side, it has  a similar ring to late last season when Rafa Benitez used his squad rotation system ahead of a Champions League game, will he do the same again? He may well be forced to leave talisman Steve Gerrard on the side lines after he was forced to take a pain killing injection last week to reduce the pain of a broken toe.  He subsequently missed the England game and looks set to be rested prior to the mid week Champions League qualifier.

Liverpool were robbed of victory against Chelsea last week with a controversial penalty, a move which saw referee Rob Stiles “suspended” from this weeks games – after a review of his performance.  Liverpool will be determined to make up for losing their 100% record, but it wont be easy against a Sunderland team looking to make the Stadium of Light a fortress.  If Sunderland are to have any chance of surviving in the Premiership this season they need to pick up as many points as possible at home, roared on by the local faithful – many of whom made the trip to Wigan last week to see their team well and truly beaten.

While both teams have some class acts, Sunderland are tending to rely more on a strong team spirit, with Liverpool in possession of some great players who can change a game by themselves.  It will be interesting to see what tactics each manager uses, but Benitez looks likely to fight fire with fire and we may see an interesting attacking match.  Keane will be determined to ensure that his players receive a pick me up after their defeat at Wigan, but make no mistake this will be a tough game.

While Sunderland’s defence performed well against Tottenham and Birmingham , they let is slip against Wigan.  In a hard fought attacking game, expect Sunderland to come away with a well earned draw, leaving Benitez with yet more frustration.

Forecast : Draw

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