Liverpool visit struggling Sunderland in the Premier League with Christian Benteke eager to build momentum after scoring the winner in the 1-0 win over high-flying Leicester City.
Benteke netted the only goal of the game at Anfield on Boxing Day to deal Leicester their first league defeat since September.
The Belgian’s strike was his first in seven games but he and eighth-placed Liverpool can afford to be confident of finding the net again at the Stadium of Light against a second-bottom Sunderland side that has shipped 37 goals this season.
Former Aston Villa forward Benteke told Liverpool’s official website: “I spoke with the manager a few days ago about where I can improve and what he is expecting from me.
“We had a good conversation. We had like a ‘man conversation’ and I think it is going to help me and help the team. Of course I am still a young player and I want to learn.
“I think I have to run more and I have to be there for my team-mates. You could see against Leicester that I showed I understand his message and now I have to keep going like that.
“I have to learn and I have to understand what he wants. He is the right manager for me to help me in my development.”
Benteke’s compatriot Divock Origi is likely to miss out for Liverpool because of a hamstring injury but Jordon Ibe is in line to return from illness.
James Milner (calf), Jordan Rossiter, Martin Skrtel and Daniel Sturridge (all hamstring) are all still unavailable.
Sunderland captain John O’Shea is expected to be sidelined for the clash due to a calf problem. Sebastian Larsson (knee) and Younes Kaboul (hamstring) are also out.
Sam Allardyce’s men lost 4-1 at Manchester City on Saturday and the former West Ham boss wants his players to rediscover their spirit.
Allardyce said: “My team didn’t play its best against Manchester City and I expect my team to play its best every game.
“I demand that they do that and there’s no let up from me. I strive for that consistency because that’s what’s going to get us out of trouble.
“Liverpool can be beaten – Newcastle down the road showed us that recently – if you get the gameplan right and you frustrate them. They have some weaknesses you can expose.
“We’re looking very frail in terms of getting the right result, we’ve got to get back to being resilient. We’ve got to be spoilers to try and get ourselves a result.”
Key Opta Stats:
– Sunderland have managed to pick up just two points in their last six Premier League meetings with Liverpool (W0 D2 L4).
– Liverpool have conceded only 10 goals in their last 22 league meetings with Sunderland.
– Christian Benteke has netted five goals in six Premier League appearances against Sunderland; more than versus any other side – this includes one of only two hat-tricks in the competition (April 2013).
– Benteke’s winning goal against Leicester City on Boxing Day was his first in the competition for Liverpool since October.
– Liverpool have lost their last two Premier League away games without scoring – they have hot lost three consecutive away games in the competition since April 2012 (four in a row).
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