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

Moyes described our performance against Burnley as shambolic and I wouldn’t argue with that but it wasn’t just down to the loss of two key players as we’d already gone way off the boil after the opening ten minutes. Sunderland fans expect that every man should do his duty but can the players on Saturday really say that they did theirs? The injuries to Kone and Anichebe only made a terrible result worse and the yellow card for Jones added another problem before we face a very difficult match this afternoon. By chance Palace, West Ham, Boro and Swansea all lost as well over the weekend and I’m glad about that at least. The seriousness of Kone and Anichebe’s injuries is still unclear at this stage and it even seems possible that one or both of them may feature today but I doubt it. Without Kone our defence looks very vulnerable and I dread to think what the in-form Liverpool attack will do against them. Hull are away at West Brom today while Palace are at home to Swansea tomorrow so points have to be dropped in the latter game as well as in the Boro v Leicester early match today. All good sense would suggest that we’ll be well beaten this afternoon but we all know anything can happen in this league. A win would be a fantastic result but I don’t feel at all optimistic. Match prediction: 1-3.

As expected Anichebe and Kone weren’t in the squad and Rodwell and Love were starting while the bench was looking very inexperienced. Was Rodwell going to come good at last and dig us out of a hole? I doubted that very much and wondered where Pienaar was. The Boro v Leicester match had ended in a draw and I suppose that was probably the best result for us. I had a bath and got the match online so I may have been in low spirits about our prospects but I was very clean.

Our fans were in good voice at any rate as the game kicked off and I was pleased to see that Liverpool weren’t playing in red. It was all Liverpool in the opening stages and it looked like Seb had a bit of a tug on Clyne on the edge of our box but he escaped unpunished. On five minutes we produced a fine effort on target from a Defoe shot after good play by PVA down the left. We soon won a free-kick in a decent position but the whistle went for offside as Rodwell’s free header went wide. At the other end Mannone made two really good saves and that must’ve done his confidence good after his display against Burnley. The ten-minute mark passed and we’d done surprisingly well. Rodwell had a decent low shot on target that Mig got clear but next thing he was yellow-carded for a bad foul on Can. We were certainly having a go and the big crowd was responding. Vito made another good stop from a long-distance Sturridge shot and then it looked like Seb had put it in his own net but it went just wide for a corner. Liverpool got it in the net from the corner though, as our defence stood still and Sturridge looped a header wide of Vito. Five minutes later though, we equalised when Ndong was fouled in their box by Klavan and Defoe put the penalty away into the left side-netting despite Mig almost reaching it. Two minutes later I thought we were about to get a second when Defoe was put through and Mig got a hand to his shot while Fab’s follow-up shot was touched out for a corner. Our fans were in great voice and spirits were up. Just before the half-hour we won a free-kick in a good spot but again we were ruled offside and next thing Rodwell had a decent volley on target. Defoe just failed to get on the end of a great pass from Januzaj and down the other end Vito was there again to defy Sturridge; he wasn’t catching much but he was getting them away. He did better three minutes before the break when he held another long-distance Sturridge effort. The game continued to go from end to end in an entertaining match and we battled right up to the end of two minutes stoppage-time with Januzaj cleverly winning a corner with a back-heel. There was loud applause as the whistle went and that reflected my mood.
This was tempered a bit when I heard that Hull were one-up away to West Brom.

Moreno had replaced Milner as we started again and almost at once Clyne was in a good position but thankfully opted for a fresh-air shot. Seb was yellow-carded for a spot of hugging. Liverpool had much the better of the opening ten minutes but we were looking solid. Next thing Mane should have scored from a Clyne cross from the right but he fluffed it. Twelve minutes in Liverpool were lucky to escape a second penalty when a Januzaj pass hit Can’s arm but referee Taylor wasn’t having any of it. Manquillo replaced Rodwell in the sixty-fifth and there was a decent ripple from our fans. Love dropped back and Fab moved to the left. Elsewhere West Brom had taken a 2-1 lead against Hull and that was great news. I felt there was still a goal or two to come in our match and hoped we’d be able to catch the Liverpool back four napping with another long ball. Mannone made a great point blank save from Sturridge and it went for a corner but when it came across Mane tapped it home from close range to put them ahead again. Khazri replaced Januzaj with about twelve minutes to go and there was still time for us to nick one. Defoe was fouled just outside their box right opposite the middle of their goal and from Seb’s free-kick Mane handled and we got our second penalty. Again Defoe stepped forward and whacked it into the bottom left corner to put us level. With about five minutes left it felt like anything could happen. Ndong conceded a free-kick near the left angle of our box but Vito saved well from a resultant header. Djilobodji conceded another free-kick at the right angle of our box and injured his head in the process. Vito came out and leapt to hold the free-kick. Meanwhile five minutes of stoppage-time had been announced. Vito saved well from Lallana and Liverpool got another corner. We battled to the last and it ended 2-2.

Phew! That was a bit more like it and all our players upped their game a lot to gain a good result. Vito and Djilobodji, Saturday’s main culprits, both played well so credit to them while Ndong played what was to me his best performance for us. Most credit of all must go to the ever cool Defoe – where would we be without him?

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