Premier League preview: Sunderland v Liverpool

Sunderland welcome Liverpool to the Stadium of Light on Sunday, with both sides desperate for a win to keep their European hopes alive.

Liverpool are in sixth place in the English Premier League but six points adrift of fifth-placed Spurs, who are in the automatic spot for Europa League qualification next season. Sunderland, meanwhile, are in eighth place and 10 points short of Spurs.

Kenny Dalglish’s men will be looking to bounce back from the disappointment of their 0-0 draw with Braga at Anfield on Thursday, a result which saw them eliminated from the Europa League at the Round of 16 stage with a 1-0 aggregate defeat to the Portuguese side.

It was a game in which Liverpool – who have enjoyed a stunning reversal of their domestic form under the Scotsman since he replaced Roy Hodgson in January – looked bereft of ideas at times, with long ball after long ball to 35 million-pound striker Andy Carroll failing to bring the goal they needed.

In the league, however, it is a different story, with five wins in their past seven games, including a 1-0 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and a 3-1 win over Premier League leaders Manchester United at Anfield in their last start.

Steve Bruce’s Sunderland side, meanwhile, have endured some woeful league form over the past month, and have not won a game since their 2-1 triumph at Blackpool on January 22.

The last time the two sides met, two goals from now-Aston Villa striker Darren Bent sandwiched between strikes from Liverpool duo Dirk Kuyt and Steven Gerrard produced a 2-2 draw at Anfield.

From that trio, only Kuyt will be playing on Sunday, with Gerrard ruled out for a month with a groin complaint.

The absence of his skipper is not Dalglish’s only fitness problem, with Danish defender Daniel Agger still missing along with Fabio Aurelio, Jonjo Shelvey and Martin Kelly.

Steve Bruce also has some troubling news from the treatment room, with former Liverpool winger Bolo Zenden, Nigerian defender Nedum Onuoha, goalkeeper Craig Gordon and Irish midfielder David Meyler all sidelined.