Liverpool are knee deep into the crowded festive period, and their next challenge is to take on Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. The team are coming off of a heartening victory against then-league leaders Leicester City on Boxing Day, and they'll be looking to keep the good results coming on Wednesday. If they win, they'll jump up to seventh place, even on points with floundering rivals Manchester United.
Sunderland are in the midst of a terrible season. They haven't earned a single point in the league so far in December, having suffered four defeats in a row to Arsenal, Watford, Chelsea, and Manchester City. They will be desperate for a win at home, but Liverpool go into the game as favorites. However, the theme of Liverpool's season seems to be winning, or at least getting points off of games that, on paper, should be difficult while losing the games that should be easier. And while, yes, every game in the Premier League presents a different challenge, losing against the likes of Newcastle and Watford is hard to swallow after battering both Manchester City and Chelsea away from home.
With any luck, they will break that bad habit on Wednesday, but if they do, it will be without the help of Daniel Sturridge, Martin Skrtel, James Milner, and Divock Origi, who are all set to miss the match. The good news is that the center back partnership of Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho had a positive showing against Leicester, managing to successfully hold off the dangerous duo of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez. Christian Benteke, while appearing ill-suited to the team's set up, still managed to snag the winning goal when he was substituted into the Leicester game following Origi's unfortunate injury. Jordon Ibe is also set to make a return to action in the game, which gives Klopp a bit more choice in his set up.
As for Sunderland, Sam Allardyce has intimated that he doesn't want to risk playing captain John O'Shea so soon after he limped off with an injury against Manchester City. Younes Kaboul and Sebastian Larsson are also out. Liverpool fans likely will, however, see a reunion with former Reds Sebastian Coates and Fabio Borini.
Clyne/ Lovren/ Sakho/ Moreno
Ibe/ Firmino/ Coutinho
In the interest of rotation during this intensive period, Emre Can may begin on the bench with Liverpool stalwart Lucas Leiva retaking his place in the midfield alongside captain Jordan Henderson. Ibe had a few good appearances before being sidelined by illness, and if he's available, he should start. The real question will be whether or not Klopp chooses to go with Benteke upfront, having preferred Divock Origi at the weekend. It's possible we'll see Roberto Firmino playing as the striker instead, but Klopp seems likely to opt for Benteke in an effort to further boost the big Belgian's confidence after his game-winner on Saturday.
As ever with Liverpool, the back line picks itself, but look out, folks, because Jon Flanagan made his long-awaited return to action today with the U21s against Fleetwood Town. Heavens to Betsy and get the confetti ready, it might actually be happening this time.
In addition to the aforementioned injuries, Liverpool will also be without Jordan Rossiter, Danny Ings, and Joe Gomez.
Kickoff is set for 7:45PM GMT/2:45PM EST Wednesday. Television coverage will be on Sky Sports 1/HD in the UK and NBC Sports Network for the US. Elsewhere, Fox Sports 4 Australia in Australia, TSN2 in Canada, Star Sports 4 Asia in India, SuperSport 3 Africa in Kenya, Astro SuperSport in Malaysia, and 102 (hd) mio Stadium in Singapore are carrying the match. You can find other listings at LiveSoccerTV. Online streaming is also available with NBC Sports Extra in the US and Sky GO Extra in the UK. For Online radio, fans worldwide can check out LFCTV GO and TalkSport Radio World.
We'll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it's released, our live matchday thread and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on all the action as it happens.