Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Midweek Premier League Madness: Liverpool blanks Sunderland to climb table

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool
Liverpool's struggles away from Anfield carried on in the first half. They looked lifeless against the worst defense in the Premier League, although they did come close a couple of times. Robert Firmino fired a rocket off the post and Jordan Henderson had one cleared off the line just before the halftime whistle. The Black Cats, while only having one shot on target, had an opportunity of their own as well. Fabio Borini didn't miss by much when a curling shot came in towards Simon Mignolet's goal. Sunderland got some bad news when Jack Rodwell was forced off the pitch with an uncomfortable looking injury near the half hour mark.

Christian Benteke put Liverpool's attacking misfortune to bed all of 22 seconds of the second half kickoff. The striker collected a through pass and easily slipped past Vito Mannone. After that goal, the Reds got extremely passive against a Sunderland side that was probably incapable of scoring against them anyway. They had a couple chances as the clock ticked towards the end. Benteke was one on one with Mannone about a minute into stoppage time and plunged his effort straight into the Italian keeper.

Belief was all that Sunderland could ride on in the final minutes. Saying they even had any chance would be a slight exaggeration. They had no attacking power against the far superior Liverpool side, who now have back to back 1-0 wins. A corner at the death of the match for the home team was their final salvo, and it was dealt with with ease from the Liverpool defense.

This win allows Liverpool to put some pressure on the top four heading into 2016. They are at 30 points, which puts them behind Manchester United in sixth place only on goal difference. Sunderland are still stuck in relegation land, a place they have narrowly avoided over the past couple years. They have 12 points from the first half of the season, which has them in 19th and seven points back from safety. It certainly looks like they year that the Black Cats finally succumb to their relegation fate.

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