Losing Alex Teixeira to China has followed on from a loss against Leicester City for Jürgen Klopp's Liverpool this week. Will these tribulations now be capped off by a 77th minute walk-out of tomorrow's match organized by Supporters' Groups Who Shall Not Be Named?
Wherever that one lands, it would be no way to treat our guests this Saturday, Sunderland AFC. So in a preemptive olive branch, we welcome our counterparts from the Roker Report to chew some fat, shoot some breeze, and spin some collective yarn regarding our teams' respective chances in this Premiership encounter.
The Liverpool Offside: Sunderland Association Football Club: so named because it lays all before it asunder?
Roker Report: If "asunder" is to mean "apart from from each other in position or direction" then that certainly applies to most Sunderland teams throughout my lifetime. Sam Allardyce has tried his best to bring more organisation to the side but it's yielded varied results, such as conceding 4 goals away to Spurs but keeping a clean sheet against a good attacking side like Stoke. Hopefully with our new defensive recruits and some players coming back to fitness (Younes Kaboul and Seb Larsson) then the team will begin to come together more and be more consistent.
TLO: Last we met, Liverpool had just beaten Leicester City 1-0 prior to going on to beat the Black Cats 1-0, thanks to a Christian Benteke goal. This time through, the Reds are coming off of a 2-0 loss to the Foxes. Does this mean we can expect a 2-0 result, and why won't it be thanks to a Christian Benteke brace?
RR: It's definitely a likely scoreline given our penchant for conceding goals this season, although we did look a bit tighter defensively against Manchester City in midweek. If Sam Allardyce stays with the same solid midfield trio of Lee Cattermole, Jan Kirchhoff and Yann M'Vila then we have a good foil to protect the likely centre half pairing of John O'Shea and Lamine Kone.
Benteke will definitely score against us because: A) He has quite a good record against us and B) Strikers who are out of form always score against Sunderland, it's just an unwritten law of football.
TLO: Do you want Christian Benteke?
RR: Sure. Do you fancy taking Valentin Roberge off us?
TLO: We can think of no better Valentine's Day gift for the missus! But onto the next one:
In 2012, a little indie diddly by the name of Mud came out to little fanfare and even less distribution. This belied the fact that its title character was being portrayed by an eventual Academy Award winning Texan, Matthew McConaughey. We're talking that early sweet spot of the McConaissance.
Mud, a degenerate outlaw with an obsessive over-reliance on perpetual self harm, via the near constant saving of a blonde damsel in distress, was exquisitely held together in the film's tapestry by his moral counterpart: a poor 14 year old lad named Ellis. Ellis happened to be rather short.
Has the ownership of Texas' own Ellis Short found its place in the tapestry of Sunderland AFC?
RR: First of all, excellently put. Mud certainly was a fantastic beginning to the McConaissance but it the undoubted peak was Dallas Buyers Club with McConaughey ultimately picking up the Best Actor award at that years Academy Awards. Unbelievable onscreen chemistry with Jared Leto too, wouldn't you agree?
RR: With regards to Ellis Short you certainly can't doubt his enthusiasm and love of the club. He bought his initial stake at the beginning of the 2008/09 season and then bought the club outright the following summer, backing Steve Bruce hugely in the transfer market as we signed the likes of Darren Bent for huge sums. He's had nights out in Sunderland where he's payed for everyone's drinks in bars and meals in restaurants, which certainly gained him further endearment. The fact that he seems to hate Newcastle and Mike Ashley hasn't gone down to badly either and he even sports an FTM (Fuck The Mags) badge occasionally.
As we've seen Sunderland battle relegation season upon season, he's came in for quite a lot of criticism. Some have said we haven't spent enough on players which is, quite frankly, ludicrous given that he's the greatest benefactor the club has ever had. My main issue has been his naivety when it comes to running the club, such as appointing a complete psychopath like Paolo Di Canio and then sacking him 6 months later. Also, his failed attempt with the Director of Football model has proved disastrous with his first appointment, Roberto Di Fanti, not even seeing his first season out after a dreadful summer transfer window. Di Fanti's successor, Lee Congerton, was recently let go after Sam Allardyce was appointed manager, lasting only 18 months in the job.
TLO: High definition projections of Sam Allardyce's facial expressions: overrated, underrated, or properly rated?
RR: Definitely underrated. I have a folder of pictures on my phone labled "Big Sam" with a variety of expressions suitable for all occasions.
RR: Would it be fair to say that Allardyce and Klopp have the best facial expressions of any manager in the Premier League?
TLO: Dude, ew. Let's move on:
£31m of Chinese Super League dosh were just spent on Colombian striker Jackson Martinez. Other such transfers to the Far East during this January window included £25m of Ramires, and the presumably sub-£32.5m deals for Gervinho and Fredy Guarin. Why did Liverpool not move for one of these players instead of for Christian Benteke?
RR: Jackson Martinez probably could have done a job for Liverpool but he's obviously content enough with what he's done at club level and his happy to earn a bucket load of money, whilst having less pressure on him. Same could probably said for Gervinho as he enjoyed a McConaissance (Gervonaissance?) of his own at Roma. You're surely content enough with your central midfielders, until the summer at least, without splashing out on Ramires?
Surely Benteke isn't that bad mate?!
TLO: Do you guys, by any chance, refuse to score on set pieces, while playing an expansively paced, toothless attacking game that inherently eschews tightly organized defending? Follow up question: it would also help if you weren't too bothered about defending the front post on corners, specifically.
RR: We've been ok on set pieces this season, scoring 8 goals from them all together (including one penalty). Wahbi Khazri looked very threatening from corners when he came on against Manchester City on Tuesday so that could be one to look out for. In terms of defending them, we've been quite resolute. West Ham fans did mention that they rarely conceded from corners under Allardyce and that's proved true for us, bar the odd slip here and there.
RR: Our starting line up will probably be something along the lines of - Mannone; Jones O'Shea Kone Van Aanholt; Cattermole Kirchhoff M'Vila; Khazri Defoe Borini
We need to pull off some shock results and we need to do it sooner rather than later. I'd be surprised to see us keep a clean sheet but i'll remain optimistic and say that we'll win 2-1. Kone and Khazri for us, Firmino for Liverpool.
Thanks again, Roker Report!