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Sunderland AFC v liverpool (A)...
LINES FROM LONDON: EXILES BLOG

A few weeks ago I wouldn’t have given us a cat in hell’s chance of us getting anything from this game but hope is starting to rear its ugly head. Djilobodji’s timely red card should mean that O’Shea will be in the back four and that’s quite reassuring but we’ll still have big problems dealing with Liverpool’s pacey attack.

As Seb and Kirchhoff are almost back to full fitness we should also be seeing one or both of them today too and that’s really good news. Swansea play Palace today while other immediate rivals have tough games, including Burnley whom I suspect will start dropping like a stone. No doubt we’ll be packing the defence and playing for a draw this afternoon but with the form our strikers are in I think we’re well capable of nicking a goal. I stayed at the home of my Liverpool-supporting mate last night and we’re just about to set off into the freezing cold for a few pre-match libations. I haven’t actually got my ticket in my hand yet but hopefully I’ll be able to collect it from the ticket-office. Match prediction: 1-1. My mate says Liverpool are full of confidence and feel they can score goals against anybody so he reckons it’ll be 2-0 or 3-0 to them. He concedes that their back-four are a bit wobbly.

In the end I couldn’t argue with the result. We played well in the first-half and defended solidly to keep it goalless at the break but in the second we sat back far too much and let Liverpool pummel us so it increasingly felt like a goal was inevitable.

Kone was a tower of strength throughout and again Pickford made a number of great saves while PVA did a lot better defensively than I’ve seen for a good while. Liverpool took the lead with fifteen minutes to go when I was just starting to think that we were actually going to nick a point and it was substitute Origi who got it with a low shot from the left of the box. He’d come on for Coutinho who’d been stretchered off after thirty minutes to some cheering from our fans but, I’m glad to say, most of our end gave him a ripple. We conceded the second in the final minute of the allotted time and it was sloppy all round as the move began when we took a throw well into their half but lost possession and finally Mane was fouled in our box and Milner put the penalty away. We brought on Januzaj and Gooch for Watmore and Pienaar shortly after their first goal but this didn’t help us and I’ve rarely heard so much vitriol directed against one player, and I’ve heard plenty, as I heard directed against Januzaj’s contribution to this game.

It’s no disgrace to lose away against one of the title contenders and despite my disappointment at the defeat, there were a number of positives from the first-half at least to indicate we can get results against lesser teams than Liverpool.

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