Monday 2 January, 15.00, Stadium of Light

A third game of the season over the border and the first in the Premier League with Sunderland facing Liverpool.

Since Sunderland were formed in 1879 they have won six top-flight titles (1892, 1893, 1895, 1902, 1913, and 1936) and have finished runners-up five times.  The club has also won the FA Cup in 1937 and 1973.  Although they have twice reached the final of the League Cup (most recently in 2014) they have never won it.

Sunderland remained in the top league for 68 successive seasons until they were relegated for the first time in 1958.  Since then they have won the second tier title five times and the third tier title once.  They moved from their Roker Park home in 1997 into the Stadium of Light which had 7,000 seats added in 2000 to make the capacity 49,000.

Liverpool were formed in 1892 and joined the Football League the following year.  They won the top league for the first time in 1901 and have gone on to win it a further 17 times, the vast majority in their glory years of the 1970s and 80s.  They won it seven times in the 1980s.  They have also won the silverwear in the League Cup eight times and the FA Cup 7 times.  European success has also come many times with 3 UEFA Cups, 3 Super Cups, and 5 European Cups.

There has been a lot of glory for fans of the reds down the years, but they have been surpassed in recent years and haven’t won the league now since 1989-90.  Their most recent trophy was the League Cup in 2011-12.

The club has played at Anfield since its formation and changed from red shirts and white shorts to an all-red home strip in 1964 which has been used ever since.

Sunderland look like facing another season trying to fight off relegation, which seems to be an annual chore now.  They have been in the top league since the 2007-08 season, with a 10th place finish in 2010-11 being their best finish.  They have escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth the last two seasons.

The Black Cats lost 4-1 at Burnley on New Year’s Eve and come into the game in 18th position, occupying the last of the 3 relegation spots.

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Liverpool have much more lofty ambitions, with a real challenge for the league on the cards.  They come into the match in second place, 6 points behind leaders Chelsea.  Their game on Hogmanay was a 1-0 win against Manchester City, reinforcing their title credentials.

Sunderland are without Victor Anichebe, who suffered a hamstring injury at Burnley, with Lamine Kone also missing after coming off in the opening 45 minutes of the same game.

Jason Denayer is still out with a hamstring injury and Jordan Pickford, Lee Cattermole, Jan Kirchhoff, Paddy McNair, Lynden Gooch and Duncan Watmore all remained sidelined.

Although Phillipe Coutinho had resumed training, he wasn’t ready to return to the Liverpool squad.  Defender Joel Matip was also still injured along with Jordan Henderson.

There were 46,494 in attendance.

The home side had the first effort on goal after 6 minutes.  Van Aanholt playing the ball inside for Defoe from the left and he shot firmly from 20 yards but it was too central and Mignolet got down to smother the ball.

Liverpool had two shots at the Sunderland goal in the 8th minute, with both Sturridge and Wijnaldum seeing their shots saved by Mannone.

In 13 minutes, a mistake by Clyne gave Sunderland a throw in near the corner flag on the left.  Januzaj cleverly backheeled to van Aanholt who played the ball to Rodwell on the corner of the box.  He struck powerfully at goal but Mignolet was down quickly to push the ball away.

Rodwell became the first player in the book seconds later when he was very late on Can.

Patient build up play by Liverpool in 17 minutes ended with Firmino passing to Sturridge in a central position around 20 yards out.  His curling effort was acrobatically saved with one hand by Mannone.

Liverpool were starting to put the pressure on and Lallana and Mane both had shots blocked in the next minute.

The pressure was becoming incessant and Firmino played the ball inside the box to the overlapping Lallana and his cross was almost turned into his own net by Larsson at the back post.

Sturridge tried to take a quick one to Milner, but the ref wasn’t having it and the players swapped places.  Milner’s cross was volleyed into the ground towards goal by Lovren.  Sturridge rose and headed very skilfully over Mannone to give the reds the lead.  There were 19 minutes on the clock.

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With 24 minutes gone, Can took his eye off the ball in defence and let the ball spin away for a Sunderland throw.  It was played to Ndong who ran into the area under pressure from Wijnaldum and Klavan caught his leg and he went down.  Penalty.

Defoe stepped up and placed the ball right in the corner into the net to draw Sunderland level.  It was well placed and it had to be, as Mignolet dived the right way.

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Two minutes later, the home side came very close to going in front.  A delightful through ball by Januzaj bisected the Liverpool defence and N’Dong, who was in an offside position stopped and let Defoe run onto the ball.  He tried to take it round Mignolet, but the keeper got a hand to it.  It fell to Borini, but his shot, which looked to be going wide anyway, was deflected past the post by Klavan.

Milner picked up a booking in 30 minutes for a late tackle on Borini.

In 32 minutes, Rodwell tried a shot from outside the box, but it was a comfortable save for Mignolet in the Liverpool goal.

Sturridge tried his luck from distance in 42 minutes, but Mannone got down to save.

It was an interesting first half in which Liverpool started confidently and when they went in front it looked as though they were in for a comfortable win.  Sunderland didn’t give up though and fought their way back into the game and deserved to go in level at half time.

Sunderland’s Larsson went into the book in 51 minutes for a late tackle on Firmino.

A clever flick by Januzaj in 57 minutes set Borini away on the edge of the Liverpool box and he burst forward but saw his shot blocked by Lovren.  The ball came back to Defoe but Klavan got in the way of his effort.  The ball went to Januzaj and his ball into the box looked to hit the hand of Can, but the referee ignored the appeals.

Firmino and Can both had efforts from distance that didn’t overly exert Mannone as Liverpool tried to regain the initiative before Defoe had a long-range effort of his own.

Sturridge played a clever one-two in the Sunderland box with Lallana in 71 minutes, who backheeled the return pass, but from the right hand side of the six yard box, Mannone was able to do enough to block the ball behind.

Moreno went across to take the resultant corner and it flicked off the head of Djilobodji and came to the feet of Mane at the back post who tapped home to put the reds back in front.

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In 79 minutes, the ball was played into the feet of Sturridge on the edge of the box and he went down under the challenge of Djilobodji.  Liverpool manager Klopp was going mad when Sunderland didn’t play the ball out so he could receive treatment, but Liverpool had the ball first and didn’t play it out either.  Sturridge had to come off after treatment.

Sturridge’s replacement, Lucas, fouled Defoe on the edge of the box in 82 minutes and Larsson lined up the free kick for Sunderland.

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His free kick struck the wall, but had hit the hand of Mane and the referee gave another penalty.  Mane was booked for his troubles.  Lallana was also booked for complaining.

Defoe stepped up and sent Mignolet the wrong way to bring Sunderland level again.

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Liverpool pressed forward looking for a winner and Klavan, Lallana and Firmino (twice) all had efforts on goal but they couldn’t get the ball past Mannone.

Sunderland would have been delighted with a point while it was very much two dropped for Liverpool.  Mannone played very well in goal for Sunderland while Lallana stood out for Liverpool.

Both sides would be losing players to the African Cup of Nations with Liverpool’s Mane heading there along with N’Dong and Khazri both going from Sunderland.  Liverpool would also be sweating over Sturridge’s injury.

An entertaining game, but Liverpool didn’t play anywhere near as well as they can.

Full Time: Sunderland 2 Liverpool 2.

Admission: £27

Sunderland: 1 Vito Mannone, 22 Donald Love, 16 John O’Shea, 3 Patrick van Aanholt, 5 Papy Djilobodji, 17 Didier Ndong, 7 Sebastian Larsson, 8 Jack Rodwell (Manquillo 65), 9 Fabio Borini, 44 Adnan Januzaj (Khazri 79), 18 Jermain Defoe. Subs: 39 George Honeyman, 43 Michael Ledger, 35 Josh Maja, 40 Elliot Embleton, 10 Wahbi Khazri, 12 Mika, 21 Javier Manquillo.

Liverpool: 22 Simon Mignolet, 2 Nathaniel Clyne, 7 James Milner (Moreno 45), 17 Ragnar Klavan, 6 Dejan Lovren, 23 Emre Can, 20 Adam Lallana, 5 Georginio Wijnaldum (Origi 73), 11 Roberto Firmino, 19 Sadio Mané, 15 Daniel Sturridge (Lucas 80). Subs: 21 Lucas Leiva, 18 Alberto Moreno, 1 Loris Karius, 35 Kevin Stewart, 27 Divock Origi, 53 Ovie Ejaria, 66 Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Programme: £3.

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