x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Liverpool travel to Stadium of Light hoping to arrest a mini slump and Stoke City entertain Norwich City at Britannia Stadium.

Liverpool Manager Brendan Rodgers. Julian Finney / Getty Images
Liverpool Manager Brendan Rodgers. Julian Finney / Getty Images

Brendan Rodgers has backed his Liverpool side to bounce back from a mini-slump in form with three points at Sunderland on Sunday.

Liverpool, who had won their first three games of the season, have drawn a blank in their past two matches, losing 1-0 to Southampton in the league last Saturday at Anfield and then by the same scoreline in midweek in the League Cup at Manchester United.

“I think the performance against Southampton wasn’t so good,” said Liverpool manager Rodgers. “We weren’t as proactive in the games as we normally were. I thought our performance at Old Trafford was excellent. The only negative was we conceded a very poor goal from a corner, but apart from that I saw a lot of the characteristics from the team that I would want.

“Throughout the team we had good performances the other night. We just need to keep believing, keep our confidence and the wins will come. I expect us to rebound back and go again.”

The loss to United made it six games since Liverpool last scored a goal in the second half of a match, a run that stretches back into the penultimate game of last season.

Rodgers said of the statistic: “It is well documented we haven’t scored a goal [in the second half] and sometimes that trend surprises you when you hear that.

“Probably in some of the games in the second half we have sat a bit deeper and have seen out the results, but at Swansea we didn’t.

“It doesn’t concern me. It is something we will work on.”

Sunderland will be led again today by caretaker manager Kevin Ball, who has stepped in to the breach after Paolo Di Canio was dismissed following last weekend’s 3-0 loss to West Bromwich Albion.

Rodgers is wary of a strong response from the hosts, and said: “We know the capabilities of Sunderland and I am sure they will come out fighting for a result.”

Ball acknowledged he wants to be Sunderland manager long term and has put his name forward, but said he took no delight from inheriting the role from Di Canio.

Ball has done the role before, in 2006, after Mick McCarthy was fired, and he said: “The situation the last time and the situation this time – in an ideal world, you wouldn’t want either of them to have happened.

“You would want the role, but in a different situation and different circumstances.”


Mark Hughes is confident the goals will begin to flow for Stoke City, starting with the home game against Nowrich City.

Stoke have only scored four goals in five matches this season, and Hughes said: “I am convinced that at some point things will turn and we will score a greater amount of goals. We are certainly creating chances and that is encouraging.”