LFC Talk


Match Preview: Sunderland v Liverpool by lfctalk
August 14, 2008, 12:44
Filed under: Match Previews

17:30 Saturday 16th August 2008 (Live on Setanta Sports)

After the disappointment of Wednesday night’s draw in Liege, Rafa Benitez and his side will be looking to make a better start to their Premiership campaign. Roy Keane’s Sunderland side are the opening day opponents for Rafa’s men and they will prove no pushovers.

The North-Eastern club have signed several players this Summer, perhaps most notably former Red El-Hadji Diouf. The Senegalese forward has arrived in a £2.5m deal from Bolton. He will be looking to stifle the Reds title challenge from the off and also trying to score his second against his former employers. Other notable arrivals at the Stadium of Light include former Spurs midifielders Teemu Tainio and Steed Malbranque along with another ex-Tottenham player in full-back Pascal Chimbonda. They didn’t quite manage to lure a quartet of signings from Tottenham with Younis Kaboul preferring a move to Portsmouth.

Roy Keane will be looking to get one over on his former club’s biggest rivals, but will be most looking forward to trying to claim a priceless three points on the opening day of the 2008/9 season. But the Irishman is disappointed at the news that Michael Chopra will miss the game through suspension.

Rafa Benitez’s options are restricted thanks to the absences of Ryan Babel, Javier Mascherano and Lucas Leiva, who are all still involved at the Olympic games and also Philipp Degen and Fabio Aurelio remain sidelined. But Steven Gerrard’s return to action last night should be an indication that he will be fit to captain the team from the off on Saturday.

Andrea Dossena and Robbie Keane are likely to make their Premiership debuts for the club in a side that is likely to only see one change from the Standard Liege encounter. Damien Plessis is most likely to be the player to miss out, with Gerrard set to take his place in midfield.

This fixture ended in a 2-0 win for the Reds last season with goals from Andrei Voronin and Momo Sissoko, also in August. A repeat of that performance and result would be most welcome to Benitez and his team after a poor start to competitive action in Belgium.

This is be the first time Benitez will be able to name seven substitutes on the bench, which will give him plenty more options when it comes to making changes. The likes of Krisztian Nemeth, Dani Pacheco, Jay Spearing and David N’Gog are the likeliest to benefit from the extension of the bench and will be looking to make the most of any opportunities they are given.

The match will be officiated by Alan Wiley.

Likely team: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Agger, Dossena, Alonso, Gerrard, Benayoun, Kuyt, Keane, Torres.

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