How can Sunderland beat Liverpool? 3 key areas for David Moyes's side
Mission impossible? Mission improbable may be more accurate.
Premier League games do not come with a greater degree of difficulty than this.
Liverpool are genuine title contenders and are scoring goals for fun at Anfield – 17 in five games (five more than the Black Cats have mustered home and away).
The Reds hauls have included six last time out against Watford, five against Hull plus four past champs Leicester.
Sunderland are up against it without a shadow of a doubt but can they go to Merseyside and get a result?
Here are three key areas for David Moyes’s team.
Cats must show belief:
How many teams are beaten before they get through the gates at Anfield?
A fair few you suspect.
Sunderland can’t afford to join the list. Ever since the shambles at Stoke, the Black Cats have shown real character on their travels and on their last away day, at Bournemouth, played a bit of football.
Liverpool have torn aside a team or four already this season but they have also let in 14 goals, the highest number in the top five.
Admittedly, 10 have been outside Merseyside, but questions levelled against the quality of their defence and new keeper Loris Karius.
Sunderland need to test the capabilities of both at Anfield and try to get at them.
Victor Anichebe and Jermain Defoe have been clinical for the last two matches and Duncan Watmore has proven a livewire as their chief assistant. They need repeat shows.
Recognise the dangermen:
Of course, where Liverpool are concerned, there is a never-ending list.
Jurgen Klopp had five different scorers when they blitzed Watford 6-1 – Sadio Mane (2), Philippe Coutinho, Emre Can, Roberto Firmino and sub Georginio Wijnaldum.
Mane, Coutinho, Firmino and Adam Lallana all possess pace, movement and talent while captain Jordan Henderson, a man well known to Sunderland and the fans, has been outstanding this season in midfield.
However, if you had to single out one, it would have to be Coutinho.
Not only does he like to come in off the left side, he loves to shoot from range and over the last two seasons, no player in the top flight has scored more from outside the area.
Every player in all red is a dangerman but Coutinho, with five goals AND five assists to date, is something else.
Stick with Little & Large:
Given the vital run of games which follow on the first three Saturdays of December, there could, could with a small ‘c’, be a temptation to ease away from the policy of two up top and give big Vic a breather.
When Man United turned up at Anfield they barely had one player up front, let alone two, as they situated 10 players inside the area or a yard or two outside it.
So to play with two against the title hopefuls will be bold.
But being bold has paid off – even down to 10 men for the final half-hour at Bournemouth (a side who possessed a similar home record to Liverpool), Moyes kept Anichebe and Defoe on the park and it worked.
Anichebe has proved his worth defensively in his two Premier League starts – at Dean Court he dropped in effectively down the left channel while last week the first couple of corners were dealt with by his ample frame.
But it what he does further up the field that matters most.
His finishing, bar a bit of a shank from the edge of the box, has been lethal but it’s his hold-up play and presence which has been first rate.
If there is any chinks in the Reds defence, big Vic might just be the man to find it.
And, as a former Everton forward, this adopted Scouser would relish the chance of scoring in front of the Kop.
He has yet to score at Anfield in a handful of appearances but he did score against Liverpool for West Brom.
As for Defoe, he has had three attempts at goal (albeit two penalties) in his last three matches and scored all three and heads to Merseyside as the equal third top scorer in the division.
Sunderland must stick with the duo.