By El Chupacabra
This is an outstanding value match. But there is a rather large "if" attached to it. Here's the deal: Liverpool is beat up. Gerrard is out and Torres is a maybe as are Kuyt and Dossena. If Torres can't go, or is only good for 45 min or so, and especially if most of the other doubtful players will be held out or given limited playing time as well, take Sunderland to win at home at +325. Sunderland is a solid club, but the numbers are in Liverpool's favor, whether its shots on goal, goals against, or goals per game. Sunderland leads in one category and that is Quality Shots per Game. They don't rack up shots on goal, but when they do they score more often than does the average team. Plus, although they do give up shots, they don't give up a lot of Shots on Goal Against. Finally, and once again, Liverpool is hurt and are not deep. Sunderland is at home and this is a serious test of whether they are simply above average, which they are, or belong in the top seven.
OUR PREDICTION: Sunderland to win in an upset
MONEY LINE Sunderland+325
LUCHAMETRIC: Advantage Liverpool: Liverpool is .68 of a Standard Deviation over Sunderland. Given their injuries, this puts the teams well within the .5 Stand Dev we use as a measure of competitive equality. Given that Sunderland is at home AND Liverpool is beat up, we think this will be a tough, hard fought match for Liverpool.
RECENT TRAVEL Sunderland: Sunderland is at home and have had fewer players away for international week. Liverpool will be traveling 168 miles for the match and had more players away for World Cup qualifiers.
HOME –v- AWAY FORM – Sunderland. Sunderland are 3 and 1 at home this year. Liverpool are 2 and 2 on the road.
INSPIRATION Sunderland: Sunderland is a solid club looking to earn a European tour this season. They can score and will, and every team is inspired when one of the big four come to town.
RECENT FORM Advantage Liverpool: Sund - WLWD, Liver – WWWL
INDIVIDUAL PLAY Draw - With the injuries to Liverpool and the signing of Dutch international Zenden, as well as the fact the Cats are fully fit for this game, we think Liverpool's star power will be less of a factor than usual.
INJURIES Advantage Sunderland: As we've been saying, Sunderland is fully fit, the Scousers are hurt: Go here for the details. But note that the Sunderland web site is reporting that McCartney and Cattermole will both be fit for the match.