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Match Preview: Liverpool v. Sunderland, 03.26.14

Team news, ways to watch, and a full preview as Liverpool host Sunderland at Anfield.

Every preview from this point forward is essentially an acknowledgement that there is a match on the immediate horizon and that said match should probably induce nausea. Liverpool have been good, and that's not something any Liverpool supporter who's honest with themselves is used to, and as exciting and wonderful and strangely erotic as that might be, it's also created a sense of pressure and urgency that makes every match the most important thing to have possibly happened since the last most important thing to have possibly happened.

Tomorrow it means a second consecutive fixture against a relegation-threatened side, as Sunderland head to Anfield winless since the first of February in the Premier League. On that day they earned a resounding victory at St. James' Park, with Fabio Borini scoring the opener in a 3-0 win, but that gave way to four matches without a win and a spot in the relegation zone, albeit with two games in hand by virtue of their relative domestic cup success.

Borini won't be available for Gus Poyet's side due to the terms of his loan agreement, and Steven Fletcher could miss out through injury. Poyet recalled Connor Wickham from loan this week, and he'll be eligible to feature if needed. At Norwich on Sunday--in a match that featured Alexander Tettey's incredible volley--Poyet went with Vito Mannone in goal, Phil Bardsley, Wes Brown, Jon O'Shea, and Marcos Alonso across the back, Jack Colback, Liam Bridcutt, and Ki Sung-Yeung in the midfield, and Borini and Adam Johnson providing support for Jozy Altidore up front. Sebastian Larsson, Emanuele Giaccherini, and Lee Cattermole started on the bench at Norwich and could all have a part to play tomorrow, with Giaccherini the most likely to replace Borini.

**Update: Marcos Alonso received a red card late in the match against Norwich and will miss out tomorrow as he serves his ban.**

For Liverpool:

Johnson Skrtel Agger Flanagan
Coutinho Henderson
Suarez Sturridge Sterling

Jose Enrique remains the only Liverpool player ruled out through injury, though Steven Gerrard is one yellow card away from missing two matches due to accumulation. As long as the captain makes it past the Manchester City match without another booking he'll be alright, but a recent return to fitness for Lucas means that a potential absence for Gerrard wouldn't be a complete catastrophe.

I doubt the potential for a Gerrard ban rules him out tomorrow, and there aren't too many obvious changes for Rodgers to make. In the interest of being completely wrong, I'll guess that there's a return to the formation that saw Liverpool turn Everton and Arsenal to dust at Anfield, with both Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling included and a return to the 4-3-3 that was so successful in those matches.

The diamond's been largely successful when it comes to gathering points and scoring goals, and could very well feature again, but maybe something else is in the works because reasons, which could also see Lucas and Mamadou Sakho find their way back into the starting eleven. I don't know, maybe just have Anfield make lots of noise and score nine goals and probably concede five but whatever?

Kickoff is set for 8:00PM GMT/4:00PM EST, with Sky Sports 1 carrying coverage in the UK and NBCSN/NBC Sports Live Extra airing the match live in the US. Our coverage will start with the overnight open thread tonight and carry into the matchday post early tomorrow, which will have team sheets an hour before kickoff. Hope you'll be around to join us--if you haven't already, sign up for an SBNation profile and stick around.

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