Sat, Mar 19, 12:25pm by Kevin Pitstock
The Sunderland v Liverpool game might have been something of a play-off for a place in the Europa League, but that is starting to look unlikely for both sides. Bolton and Stoke’s run to the FA Cup semi-finals means that its almost certain that a 5th place finish will be required to earn Europa League football, which looks beyond both teams. Sunderland have drifted a little after being in an excellent position, while one wonders how much there is left to play for as far as Liverpool are concerned – it looks as if Kenny Dalglish will keep the manager’s job once the season ends.
Sunderland have been on a poor Premier League run, picking up just one draw and a solitary point in their last five matches. That light at the end of the tunnel though, was a decent goal-less draw with Arsenal at The Emirates. It’s not coincidence that this run has coincided with a real run of injuries, and with it, a not entirely settled unit conceding some bad goals. Those problems are easing, with midfield enforcer Lee Cattermole set to be fit after three months out, along with defender Nedem Onuoha. Striker Danny Wellbeck and winger Bolo Zenden. The return of even two of those four would strengthen the side significantly. Even with their poor run, Sunderland have just 3 home defeats this season, but they haven’t won their since New year’s Day.
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish mused on a lack of creativity after their Europa League draw with Braga at home on Thursday, a result which put them out of the competition. Andy Carroll did start his first game and threw himself round with some gusto. However, the man they have relied on so often Steven Gerrard remains sidelined for the immediate future after surgery and defender Daniel Agger is also struggling to be fit. Liverpool’s record this calendar year is good – they would be third in the table on 2011 results, but they have had trouble adapting back to the Premier League after Europa league fixtures, losing all their away games afterwards. The omens therefore, are not brilliant against a side who look as if they are poised to turn the corner.
SUNDERLAND v LIVERPOOL BEST BET & PREDICTION
With both sides having form concerns and injury worries, this has the feel that it could easily be a dour draw – 0-0 is our selection and we’ll be backing the always unloved draw at $3.20 with Centrebet.
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