Weary Pool prepare for Black Cats' visit

Reds manager Juergen Klopp speaking to defender Alberto Moreno. Klopp will hope his players can fight off fatigue against Sunderland today.
Reds manager Juergen Klopp speaking to defender Alberto Moreno. Klopp will hope his players can fight off fatigue against Sunderland today.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp admits tiredness looks to be catching up with his players ahead of today's Premier League clash against Sunderland.

His side played nine games in all competitions last month before kicking off their equally hectic schedule this month with a lacklustre performance in a 2-0 defeat by Leicester City in midweek.

"Leicester had 10 days off and we had three games, so if we could have played at the same intensity, absolutely even, like them then I think they would have done something wrong," said Klopp after two goals from Jamie Vardy handed Liverpool a third defeat in five league games.

The Reds have won just once in that run to slip to eighth place in the table and there is little time for rest with the visit of Sunderland, who are fighting to avoid relegation. It is the first of six games in the space of three weeks for Liverpool, culminating in the League Cup final against Manchester City on Feb 28.

No major new signings in the January transfer window have reduced Klopp's ability to freshen things up as he continues largely with the squad he inherited from Brendan Rodgers last October.

On the plus side, he does have a couple of attacking players on the way back from injury as he looks to keep Liverpool challenging in the league, the FA and League Cups and the Europa League.

Philippe Coutinho and Divock Origi have resumed training and could be back to face Sunderland, who were beaten 1-0 by the Merseyside club at the end of December.

Klopp will need his frontline to provide goals following a three-match goal-less run as Liverpool prepare for their second league game in five days.

Some supporters are planning a walkout in the 77th minute in protest over increased ticket prices, but the players will hope it is not a distraction as they aim to bounce back from their midweek defeat and record a first home league win since Boxing Day.

"You can't really change anything anymore. So the only thing you have to do is learn from the mistakes you made and take the positives into the next game," said Reds goalkeeper Simon Mignolet. "When we play at home against Sunderland, we have to take the three points."

Wahbi Khazri insists Sunderland can still avoid relegation as the 24-year-old prepares to make his full debut for the club.

The Tunisia midfielder impressed as a second-half substitute in the 1-0 midweek defeat at home by Manchester City that leaves Sam Allardyce's side second from bottom and four points adrift of safety with 14 games remaining.

The Black Cats' decade-long stay in the top flight is under threat after just two wins in their last 10 matches, but Khazri said: "We're in a difficult position in the league, it's very serious and we need points. But there are still a lot of games left and plenty of points to pick up if we work together. A couple of quick victories will really help us."

Allardyce reports no fresh injury concerns, with Khazri set to replace Dutch international Jeremain Lens in the starting line-up at Anfield, where the Black Cats have not won in 17 visits since 1983.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LIVERPOOL v SUNDERLAND

Singtel TV Ch102 & StarHub Ch227, 11pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 06, 2016, with the headline 'Weary Pool prepare for Black Cats' visit'. Print Edition | Subscribe