Liverpool v Sunderland preview: Injury concerns for Jurgen Klopp and Sam Allardyce
By Patrick Surlis
Last Updated: 06/02/16 3:41pm
Liverpool and Sunderland both have injury concerns ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash at Anfield.
Martin Skrtel's return to action has been delayed by "two to three weeks" after the Reds defender suffered a setback in his recovery, while Sam Allardyce is sweating on the fitness of Yann M'Vila and Jeremain Lens.
The Black Cats are winless in three league matches after their 1-0 loss to Manchester City, and they have not beaten opponents Liverpool in their last six Premier League attempts.
Following their midweek defeat by top-of-the-table Leicester, Jurgen Klopp's side are 11 points off the top four and face a quick turnaround with an FA Cup fourth-round replay against West Ham scheduled for Tuesday night.
Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen is expected to overcome a shoulder problem and should be available, but Skrtel is out after aggravating a hamstring injury.
Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi and Philippe Coutinho will not be available until next week's FA Cup replay at the earliest.
Sunderland's M'Vila was unable to train on Thursday as a result of a foot problem picked up after a challenge by City's Sergio Aguero on Tuesday, although he is less of a doubt than Lens, who is nursing a groin injury.
Central defender Younes Kaboul will return to the squad after recovering from a hamstring problem which has sidelined him since before Christmas, but midfielder Sebastian Larsson (knee) is still out.
Sunderland have scored in each of their last seven away league games; their best run in the competition since April 2013.
Christian Benteke has scored six goals in seven top-flight appearances against Sunderland.
The Liverpool striker is two goals away from netting 50 in the Premier League (currently 48), but hasn't scored in his five league appearances since scoring the winner against Sunderland in December.
Roberto Firmino has scored four goals in his last four league matches; this after scoring just once in his opening 17 appearances in the competition.
Liverpool averaged more points under Brendan Rodgers in the Premier League this season (1.5) than they have under Klopp (1.4).
Sunderland have the worst points per game average of any current Premier League side in the month of February (0.63).
The Black Cats have made a league-low 1408 successful passes in the final third of the pitch this season and have the lowest passing accuracy in this area of the pitch (55.7 per cent).
Liverpool are struggling at the moment, Klopp has come in and nothing much has changed. They sort of rolled over at Leicester, if I'm being honest.
They've got a hard FA Cup game at West Ham coming up, he rested his players for the first tie at Anfield and that confused me.
Surely he should have gone the other way round and gone all out in the cup as they're not going to win the league or get fourth. I'm rather cautiously going for Liverpool here, although I'm not sure why.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-1 (Sky Bet odds: 15/2)
Liverpool are 4/11 favourites with Sky Bet with Sunderland 8/1 and the draw available at 18/5. The Reds have not conceded in their last three league meetings with the Black Cats and are 5/6 to keep another clean sheet.
This fixture finished goalless last year and it's 12/1 for another blank on Saturday. Benteke scored the only goal when the sides met in December and he is available at 14/1 in a 1-0 scorecast. Jermain Defoe is 11/4 to net anytime for Sunderland with Fabio Borini 14/1 to net the opener against his former club.
Check out tips from our Sky Sports pundits Jamie Redknapp, Charlie Nicholas, Phil Thompson and Matt Le Tissier here.