Turkey. I’m sick of it. The Turkey Dinners, Turkey Sandwiches, Turkey Curry, even the bloody country. I’d refuse an all-expenses-paid two week holiday in Turkey right now (although I encourage anyone willing to test that theory to get in touch). One thing I’ll never get sick of though is football, glorious football, and Sunderland v Liverpool brings the curtain down on the Premier League for 2015.
Sunderland enter the match mired in the relegation zone and now a whopping 7 points from safety. They often say that the introduction of a new manager will give a team a ‘bounce’ in the early weeks. Sunderland and Liverpool will testify to that, but both also show that this bounce is temporary, and whatever issues lie within a team will rise to the surface once more.
Big Sam seems to have already realised the scale of the challenge that faces him as he enters 2016. He has publicly declared that January acquisitions are the only hope his side have of avoiding relegation next May. The initial ‘bounce’ his appointment brought may well prove to be a ‘dead-cat bounce’, or a ‘dead-black-cat bounce’, or even a ‘dead-black-cat-who-are-total-shite bounce’. Harsh? Meh.
Jurgen Klopp has also identified the core issues that face his side heading into 2016, and has publicly demanded more from a number of key personnel – Benteke, Lallana, Coutinho and Firmino have been told that they need to contribute more work-rate, goals and assists starting immediately. The lack of fight and heart within the team has been questioned by many in recent weeks following poor results against the likes of Newcastle, Watford and Crystal Palace who all seemed to ‘out-battle’ the men in red.
Jordan Ibe comes into contention for Liverpool following a bout of illness. Undercooked Turkey, no doubt. However Origi, Skrtel and Milner are all still sidelined. Stifle the smirks over the last two, aye? Thanks.
Benteke is the only fit forward for Liverpool heading into this match as Jurgen Klopp insists on Sturridge proving he’s not made of crackers on the training pitch before being thrown into a full-blooded Premier League match. If Liverpool win, he’s a wise man. If they don’t he’s a dolt-headed thunder-flute. It’s a fine line…