Gary Rowell: Sunderland’s Liverpool test is a cracker

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IF you’re going to have an enforced two-week break as a supporter then the least you want from it is a good game to come back to and in this Sunday’s game against Liverpool, that’s exactly what we’ve got.

It could be a cracker.

Two weeks is a lengthy break at this stage of the season and it seems strange to have had to wait a fortnight between Arsenal and Liverpool and stranger still that we’ll then have to wait another fortnight between Liverpool and Manchester City.

The one thing we can’t complain about though is the quality of the opponent in this phase of the season – Arsenal early this month, Manchester City next month and Liverpool this weekend.

I’ve got to say that I’m pretty excited about the Liverpool game.

They might not have been at the top of the tree in the last few years but they still have an aura and a stature about them.

Maybe that’s just because all through my own career as a professional footballer, Liverpool were THE benchmark of excellence.

They dominated the game in a way that perhaps not even Manchester United have managed to do in the Premier League era and at the time you really felt as though that domination might continue for generations.

They’ve fallen away a bit since those heady days but perhaps they’re genuinely on their way back now because there’s no doubt that Kenny Dalglish has brought the feelgood factor back to the club.

I watched the stunning 3-1 defeat of Manchester United earlier this month at Anfield and Liverpool were great that day. They’ve had a couple of set-backs, they lost to Blackpool and West Ham and they’re currently on the backfoot in the Europa League.

But you wouldn’t bet against Liverpool overturning their deficit to Braga in their second=leg game this Thursday and you can’t ignore the fact that since Dalglish took over from Roy Hodgson in early January, Liverpool have gradually developed a harder edge to them and have played with much greater discipline and resolve.

They’ve had some excellent results – a win over Chelsea, as well as Manchester United – but the key to their progress was a run of four wins off the belt which lifted them over Sunderland and into a far more familiar place near the top of the table, sixth in the league, though they remain some way behind the top five.

Either way, their visit to Sunderland on Sunday will have a touch of glitz and glamour about it and gives us a Premier League game to savour.

READ the full column in Tuesday’s Echo