Sunderland vs Liverpool Preview: Reds looking to narrow gap to Chelsea against struggling Black Cats

Sunderland vs Liverpool Preview: Reds looking to narrow gap to Chelsea against struggling Black Cats

Sunderland play host to a Liverpool side who have won four successive Premier League games and look to close the gap to first-placed Chelsea to just three points with a win at the Stadium of Light on Monday.

charlie-malam
Charlie Malam

Liverpool can temporarily cut the gap to league leaders Chelsea to three points when they face a struggling Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Monday afternoon.

The Reds recorded a huge victory over fellow title rivals Manchester City on Saturday night, while the Black Cats suffered a chastening 4-1 defeat away at Burnley earlier on the same day.

That meant Chelsea remain only six points ahead despite having won 13 successive Premier League games and with Antonio Conte's in-form Blues not playing until Wednesday night - Liverpool can pile some pressure on the Londoners.

Sunderland's reverse in East Lancashire was their fourth defeat in their last five league games, immediately following a spell in which they won three of their four top-flight outings. 

But three of David Moyes' men's four wins have come at home, all inside their last four matches on home soil. The other result, a respectable 1-0 defeat to Chelsea, was the only time they have conceded in their last 360 minutes in the North East.

Yet despite their recent home form, Sunderland still sit inside the relegation zone on 14 points - two off of Crystal Palace in 17th. They are also only two points ahead of rock-bottom Swansea City, who have leaked 44 goals in 19 games this term.

Jürgen Klopp's Liverpool, meanwhile, come into this encounter having lost only one of their last 15 league games. Their win over City was their fourth successive league victory, conceding one and scoring nine goals in that time.

The league's highest scorers only went head-to-head with Sunderland six weeks ago, when Divock Origi and James Milner - with a stoppage-time penalty - helped to break the resistance of a stubborn visiting side at Anfield.

Sunderland will likely look to batten down the hatches and attempt a similar approach here, having frustrated Liverpool for long periods of their last meeting and without several key men.

Team news

Sunderland are expected to be without striker Victor Anichebe and centre-back Lamine Kone, the pair both succumbing to hamstring and hip injuries respectively before half-time of the defeat at Burnley.

The pair add to a growing injury list which includes young goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, Duncan Watmore and Paddy McNair (all ACL), Jan Kirchhoff (knee cartilage), Lynden Gooch (ankle) and Lee Cattermole (hip). 

Defender Jason Denayer (hamstring) is also a major doubt for the visit of Liverpool, with right-back Billy Jones serving a one-match suspension for accumulating five yellow cards.

This is also the last game of the month in which Sunderland will have Wahbi Khazri and Didier Ndong available, with the pair called up for Tunisia and Gabon for the Africa Cup of Nations. Kone had been called up for the Ivory Coast but is unlikely to join up due to his injury.

Liverpool are likely to be without captain Jordan Henderson after he was forced off in the second-half of the win over City with a heel problem.

Centre-back Joel Matip and Philippe Coutinho will both miss out with different ankle problems, the latter having not featured since the reverse fixture with the Black Cats eight games ago. Meanwhile Matip hasn't been involved since a home draw against West Ham United on December 11.

Otherwise, Divock Origi could join Daniel Sturridge up front with this less than 48 hours after Liverpool's last game - Klopp potentially freshening up his starting eleven.

This will also be Sadio Mane's final game before joining up with Senegal for AFCON, the winger's untimely departure coming after plundering eight goals and four assists in his first 18 top-flight appearances at Anfield.

Head-to-head

At Stadium of Light: Sunderland - 33 wins, Draws - 16, Liverpool - 31 wins.

At Anfield: Liverpool - 40 wins, Draws - 24, Sunderland - 18 wins.

Overall: Sunderland - 52 wins, Draws - 38, Liverpool - 79 wins. 

Last meeting: Liverpool 2-0 Sunderland (Origi 76, Milner 90+1), 26th November 2016, Premier League.

Recent form

Sunderland

Form in the Premier League: LLWLL
Form at home: LWWLW

Liverpool

Form in the Premier League: DWWWW
Form away from home: WDLWW

Match facts

Sunderland have won only three of their 31 Premier League matches against Liverpool, drawing 10 and losing 18.

However, all three of those victories have come at home.

Liverpool have won their last three clashes at the Stadium of Light, last losing in March 2012. 

The Reds have won their last two visits to Sunderland by a 1-0 scoreline, with a summer signing scoring the winner both times (Lazar Markovic in 2014-15 and Christian Benteke in 2015-16).

Sunderland are looking to keep consecutive home clean sheets in the Premier League for the first time since May 2014.

Liverpool's tally of 43 points is their highest ever after 19 games of a Premier League season, beating their previous best of 42 points after 19 games in 2008-09 - when they finished 2nd. 

Liverpool are looking to keep three successive league away clean sheets since keeping six shut-outs in a row from December 2014 to March 2015.

Adam Lallana added his seventh assist of the season in the win over City, his most ever in a single Premier League campaign - after just 17 appearances.

Daniel Sturridge has scored in all of his last three appearances in the league against Sunderland, albeit the last coming in March 2014.

Each of Liverpool’s last five Premier League goals against Sunderland have come in the second-half.

Match official

38-year-old referee Anthony Taylor, from Wythenshawe, Manchester, has been selected to take charge of Monday's fixture.

Taylor has been a member of the Select Group of referees since the 2010-11 season, with this his 176th match. He has dished out 587 yellow cards and 33 red cards in that time.

This is Taylor's 16th match of the current campaign. He actually oversaw the previous clash between these two teams back on Merseyside three months ago.

Otherwise, Taylor hasn't officiated any other Liverpool game - but did oversee Sunderland's 3-2 home defeat to Crystal Palace back in September.

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