clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Scouting Report: Sunderland

In a new feature, we look ahead to Liverpool's next opponents in the form of Sunderland, and just how we can get the jump on the Black Cats.

Michael Regan/Getty Images

Before the City game, Gus Poyet's side were unbeaten in their last four following that admittedly embarrassing defeat at the hands of Southampton, where they lost 8-0. Ever since then, they'd been playing much better football, most notably holding league leaders Chelsea to a draw.

They have, for as long as I can remember, have always been a very physical team. Lee Cattermole, thought by some to be a dirty player, has emphasized that more than once.

The physicality in midfield is one of Sunderland's best and most important qualities, but can also be a downfall. If they're up against a player who can speed past them, they're much more likely to concede frivolous fouls instead of sticking to the man and making sure another man is coming to help mark said attacker.

Sunderland will be without Sebastian Coates, who only just returned from injury against Man City, as he can't play against his parent club, having joined Sunderland on a season long loan from the Reds, in the summer.

In previous games against Sunderland, teams have been able to get behind the defense with the aforementioned pace, and quick passing. Sunderland combat this with their physicality and work-rate in midfield where players like Cattermole and new signing Will Buckley excel.

This isn't to say that they rely on midfield. When they don't have the ball, especially in the final third of the pitch, they tend to overload the box to stop crosses coming in, at times pushing as many as six to seven players at a time into the defensive penalty area to get the ball away.

To add to this, when taking on a man one on one, there's also a pretty good chance there'll be a man coming in to be an extra defender in case the first man gets beat.

They're also quite good at soaking up pressure, and regularly allow the opposition to have more of the ball, while they press and get in your face off the ball. This is also something Cattermole, who often is seen barking out orders to players around him, excels at, even if he is subject to the odd rash challenge now and again.

In attack, they have quite a versatile player in Connor Whickham, who can play up front, or on either wing. Lately, whilst Steven Fletcher is in decent form, he has played on the right wing. However, he started the match against City on the left, but switched to the right before scoring the opening goal in a 4-1 defeat.

With the amount of time the ball spends in defensive areas, Steven Fletcher is sometimes likely to leave his usual position as a target man and come short to receive a pass and start counter attacks. He did so as he set up  Whickham for his goal, driving forward into an attacking position in midfield from a giveaway by City before a cute little reverse pass into the path to his strike partner, which deflected off of Pablo Zabaleta, and Whickham reacted quickest to loop the ball over Joe Hart and into the goal.

As he's shown in  the past, Sebastian Larsson is a set piece specialist. He can get just the right amount of bend on a ball into the box for a man to get his head to, and has scored some amazing free kicks, and volleys in his time. I remember a goal in 2011 he scored at Anfield in a 1-1 draw and have genuinely been afraid of him ever since.


And so, despite some shortcomings, we'll have a fight on our hands to continue our nice little run. We have some really important games to look ahead to, and a win here is vital.