2012 has been a terrible year for Liverpool and if they are to turn around a mediocre season, the recovery has to start with a victory over Sunderland. The hosts have been a very streaky team lately, alternating convincing wins both at home and away, with equally disheartening defeats. Last round they scored three goals away at Queens Park Rangers without conceding one but the previous round they lost away at Stoke and allowed three goals as well. Tonight they need to earn consecutive wins and Sunderland looks like the ideal opponent, as they play a rather defensive football.
Liverpool lost the overwhelming majority of points against teams that didn’t hesitate to come out firing against them, and achieved positive results against opponents that chose to defend. Despite the fact that the hosts are only a shadow of the team that dominated the fixtures held at Anfield Road, Sunderland is not the kind of team to challenge them. Without O’Shea, Brown and Cattermole, they are hard pressed to reinforce their defensive and that’s why they would only send Fletcher upfront.
The 25-year-old Scottish player is quite adept in finding breaches in stiff defensive such as Liverpool’s but only if he receives support from the midfield. This won’t happen tonight as the entire team will focus mostly on closing the gaps left by the three absentees, which means that Fletcher will be pretty much on his own. Boosted by their recent victory and the fact that they play in front of their fans, Liverpool should take the initiative early and hopefully for the them take the lead before the break. Punters should either back them to lead at half time and win at full-time, or back them to achieve victory by at least two goals.