For a good portion of the season now Liverpool have been on a great run; our endless stream of goals have been an absolute joy to watch and for fans, the prospect of a draw now is as bad as a defeat.
But the Sunderland game was a different kettle of fish all together. While Liverpool won the first half of the game, dominating in possession and posing threat after threat, it was Sunderland who took the game to Liverpool in the second half. They were bully-ish on the ball and off it they closed us down quickly and forced plenty of errors.
Perhaps such a display should have been written off in the first half, with Argentinian Sergio Vergini fouling Luis Suarez late on in the first half for a second time. This time though it should have been a red, Suarez was the last man, straight through on goal. The referee was more interested in refereeing the game than the players. He took a safe approach and offered Liverpool very little in his decision making. On numerous occasions Liverpool had a fair shout for a freekick but Kevin Friend shook his head and nodded for the game to play on.
It was Steven Gerrard who broke the deadlock on the odd occasion the referee gave us a freekick. Anfield were waiting for Luis Suarez to trouble the goalkeeper, only to be pleasantly surprised to see Gerrard find the net. The second was a well worked individual effort from the seamless Daniel Sturridge.
Liverpool were seriously lacking in defence though and yet again, bad marking on corners punished us. Jon Flanagan has been outstanding this season and has surely been our most consistent full-back. However on this occasion, his marking was very poor and he struggled to cope with Sunderland substitute Ki. Ki prodded home, the game was 2-1 and Liverpool for the first time in a while were stuttering.
For me, this game came about at the right time. The bully boys of Sunderland taught Liverpool a vital lesson in not resting on your laurels. Before Sunderland’s goal, Liverpool had slowed the game right down to an excruciating pace and were caught like sitting ducks. Good. It was the kick up the arse we need right now. Next fixture on the list is a difficult home game against Spurs and anyone who laughs at the thought of this being a challenging game needs to think again. They are a team who possess players that can turn a game on its head. And Liverpool need to be ready for them.
Key Man For Liverpool: Phillipe Coutinho was outstanding all game against Sunderland. His constant trickery on the ball is mouth-watering to watch. The only judgement being his recent tendency to shoot from range (poorly). But you can forgive him for wanting to attract the attention of his native Brazil with the World Cup coming up.
Key Man For Sunderland: Adam Johnson was one of a few shining lights for Sunderland. He posed a threat with his excellent crossing and ruthless pace. He had Flanagan in his back pocket when he came on.