Liverpool and Sunderland will go head-to-head this evening as both sides bid to to kick-off 2013 with a win. Whilst Brendan Rogers and Martin O'Neill prepare to do battle at Anfield, GiveMeFootball provides you with an in-depth match preview ahead of the game.
Liverpool's first-team coach, Mike Marsh, has rallied the troops ahead of tonight's fixture, and the 43-year-old Liverpudlian believes the Reds can find the sustained form required to consolidate their league standing.
Speaking to Liverpool's official club website, Marsh said: "We've had a few things thrown at us since the Stoke game - about there being a lack of character and other things. But I think the lads have displayed great character in coming back.
"We lost 3-1 on Boxing Day but to come back and win a game immediately afterwards, and to win like that, shows how much spirit we have got.
If Liverpool win tonight, they will clinch their fifth home win of the season, and Marsh is keen to stress that the Black Cats will pose a genuine threat, with O'Neill's side keen to return to winning ways following the defeat to Tottenham on December 29.
"Sunderland will be a difficult game," insisted Marsh. "There are no easy games in this league - we got beat by Stoke and we got beat by Aston Villa at home.
"But if we apply ourselves and play the way we know we can, I'm sure we will get a positive result. If we take our foot off the gas, then anything can happen.
"We always want to progress and move up the table. We finished eighth last year - so we'll look to top that and keep progressing."
Jose Enrique limped off with hamstring injury during Liverpool's game against QPR at Loftus Road on December 30. Stewart Downing may deputise at left-back in the Spaniards absence.
The game comes too soon for new signing Daniel Sturridge to make his debut, but the former Chelsea star is expected to watch his new teammates from the stands.
Sunderland captain John O'Shea is likely to miss out through a hamstring injury sustained against Tottenham on Saturday, but Danny Rose returns after being ineligible to face his parent club.
Tonight's trip to Anfield may come too soon for Wes Brown and Lee Cattermole, although both players are nearing a return to first-team action.
Match Facts & Figures:
· Liverpool have had more shots off-target than any other team this season, with a total of 165.
· In the last six Premier League games, only Manchester United have won more games than Liverpool.
· Steven Gerrard has scored in his last two Anfield appearances.
· The Liverpool skipper has played in every minute of the Premier League this season.
· Sunderland have never beaten Liverpool at Anfield in the Premier League (in 11 attempts).
· The Black Cats have only beaten Liverpool three times in the Premier League (in 23 attempts).
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