It’s only been five weeks since Liverpool and Sunderland played out what was arguably one of the most boring draws of the season at Anfield, but the two sides are ready to go at it again when the Reds travel to the Stadium of Light on Sunday.
While most of the continental leagues enjoy a relaxing break from the rigours of the season during this time of the year, the Premier League is defiantly the exception to the rule with a schedule packed with not only with your run of the mill, regular season matches, but it’s also when the FA Cup kicks off for top flight teams. Although both Liverpool and Sunderland found safe passage through to the next round earlier in the week, the non-stop nature of the fixture list is starting to take its toll on Black Cats boss Gus Poyet who had himself a little moan as the weekend edged closer.
“When you think that we had Chelsea, Man City and Liverpool in one week, and then four weeks later we played Man City and Liverpool again. It`s not normal, I’m sorry. The Premier League need to realise that” complained the Uruguayan manager ahead of Sunday’s match with the Reds. “It doesn`t show the reality of the position in the league, because if you go through that period and you get beaten by the top teams and then in a few weeks you play them again and get beaten again, you are on a terrible run. The Premier League doesn`t do things the right way. The right way is to play 19 games, then you play the second 19 games in the same order.”
While I’m almost certain that if you ask the 20 different Premier League managers what the proper way to set up the fixture list is, you’ll get a different answer from each one, Poyet does have a bit of a point — though his whinefest likely has more to do with his side being winless in the league since they took home bragging rights in the Tyne–Wear just a few days before Christmas than anything else. It’d be hard to see him complaining too loud if they were on a good run.
It hasn’t been all doom and gloom for the Wearsiders though with former Manchester City winger Adam Johnson bagging a goal — his fifth of the season — against his old side as they narrowly lost out at the Etihad Stadium. “I’m halfway there to getting ten goals and even more if I can, but 10 is my target and in the recent four or five weeks I’ve been relatively happy with my performances,” the winger told the clubs official website. “Now I’m just looking for that to continue and have a positive influence at the top of the pitch to score some more goals.”
If he’s looking to add to his tally, the match with Liverpool on Saturday won’t exactly be the worst place to start with the Reds defensive problems once again on display during the 2-1 victory over AFC Wimbledon in the FA Cup. A pair of goals from Steven Gerrard saw the Anfield outfit progress to a fourth round meeting with Bolton Wanderers, but a shocking first half equalizer courtesy of Dons striker Adebayo Akinfenwa only served to highlight their problems at the back.
While the visitors have their next round match-up sorted out, Sunderland are still waiting to see who they’ll be facing — though winger Emanuele Giaccherini isn’t too worried about that right now. “We will have to wait to see the next result between Fulham and Wolves but we have a great chance to go into round five. It is also good to play at home but we will focus on the FA Cup in a couple of weeks, because currently our focus is purely on Liverpool” explained the Italian winger. “It will be a very good game because they are a very big team both now and historically. It is really beautiful to play in these types of games but we also need the points, so it will be a good game.”
Well, it can’t be worse than the last one…