First Half Report:
Sunderland started the game brightly and the away side might have been unlucky to be denied a penalty after it appeared that Connor Wickham was brought down by Martin Skrtel. Liverpool having survived a scare but what stood out was how the Reds played out from the back. The Reds however lacked the cutting edge up front and manager Brendan Rodgers would wish an early return for the injured Daniel Sturridge.
Gus Poyet’s men settled well and looked comfortable in possession in the first 15 minutes but would be unhappy having not tested the shaky Simon Mignolet. Brazilian Lucas Leiva however was at his old self breaking down opposition attacks and maintaining an inch perfect passing range.
The home side’s first real chance fell to Rickie Lambert when Adam Lallana had put in a great cross from the edge of the penalty box but the striker saw his header go wide. Always a tough chance from such a difficult angle. Coutinho then had his effort saved by Sunderland custodian Costel Pantilimon but the Brazilian’s shot was always going wide.
Jordan Henderson started his first game as Liverpool captain with Steven Gerrard on the bench but the 24 year old hasn’t been his usual self. With Rodgers opting a 4-3-3, the Reds lacked the creative spark going up front. Sunderland looked tidy and neat in possession and were very compact at the back denying the home side failed to muster a clear cut chance. The Anfield faithful isn’t too happy it seems.
Santiago Vergini however lost his concentration and was rightly shown a yellow card for push Raheem Sterling to the ground.
Vergini booked retrospectively for foul on Sterling #safc
— Chris Young (@YoungSunEcho) December 6, 2014
A trademark run by Glen Johnson saw the right back get behind the away side’s back four but his cross was simply not good enough to find a Red shirt. Lucas was surely Liverpool’s standout player for the Reds having a successful passing rate of 85%. As the following snap shows he has been everywhere in the pitch.
Glen Johnson has made the most unsuccessful touches for Liverpool today.
Liverpool started off a brighter note with Phillipe Coutinho winning a corner early after the restart but once again the delivery was shambolic. Sunderland then had one of their own as Liverpool looked lackluster in midfield.
Neither team have looked good enough to break the deadlock. The home side could have considered themselves unlucky when it appeared that JOrdi Gomez had handled the ball but you don’t see them given, do you?
Sunderland then had a huge chance to break the deadlock from a well delivered corner from Adam Johnson but the striker somehow miss timed his volley as Liverpool survived. The Reds simply can’t defend set-pieces. Abysmal, you can’t have words for this.
Gus Poyet as always animated on the sidelines, his side could really get more than a draw to take away from Anfield. Sterling looked sharp in the second half but with a congested midfield the youngster could hardly make a telling impact on the game.
Sunderland’s game plan was pretty evident. Get their taller strikers up against Liverpool’s full backs in the wide areas. Unbelievable work rate from Liverpool winning every second ball. Sterling then took the entire Sunderland defense on but Liam Bridcutt then got himself booked for bring down the winger. Jordan Henderson then fluffed the free kick from a good position high on to the Kop end. That’s absolutely poor.
But it was better from Liverpool as Sterling teed up Lucas from over 30 yards. It was a good low drive from the Brazilian but Pantilimon had that covered. Coutinho then made a yard of space to carve out a great chance but his effort was well wide.
Steven Gerrard then replaced Adam Lallana, clearly Liverpool needing some sort of inspiration from their skipper. Coutinho then had an effort blocked from Bridcutt, his thunderous volley was well on its way at the back of the net.
A fantastic run from Sterling saw the winger dribble past four Sunderland player but his layoff for Coutinho was easily saved by Pantilimon yet again. Easily Liverpool’s best moment of the match. The Reds have been awful with their set-pieces right throughout the match. Simon Mignolet then spared Liverpool the blushes with a stunning save to deny Jordi Gomez from the edge of the penalty box.
Full Time: Liverpool 0-0 Sunderland
Liverpool lacked quality right through out while Sunderland were compact in defense. In the end it was probably the right result given both the sides’ effort, the game finishing goalless.