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Nic Ladds 27th Mar 2010 - 17:20

Life’s a beach-ball for Benitez

Rafa Benitez will try and get Liverpool's pursuit for fourth place back on track, and also put the nightmare beach ball incident of the reverse fixture behind him, with the visit of struggling Sunderland.

At 2/7, Liverpool do look a bit short but their home record is pretty impressive, just two defeats all season.

Considering Sunderland have just one away win and seven of their 35 points on the road, it's hard to see them picking up any points here. The 10/1 for them to win is testament to their under-dog status, if you fancy them - best to get on the 9/4 for the draw and Sunderland double chance.

Should Liverpool win it would be their eighth straight home win, the sort of form they will need to keep up if they are to make up ground on Tottenham and Man City.

Liverpool's struggles this season have come from their failure to replace Xabi Alonso and their lack of depth in the squad to deal with injuries to Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard.

Their two key players are back now, and scoring which should set up an interesting end to the season. Torres is 5/2 to open the scoring and Gerrard is 4/1. If you prefer anytime bets you can double them both to score at any time at 11/5.

Sunderland started off so well this season but for some reason, unbeknown to Steve Bruce, their form dipped horribly and they went on a 14 game winless run in the league. There was even danger of being sucked in to a relegation battle.

However with two wins in four they have pulled eleven points clear of relegation and look safe, surely eyes will be cast towards building for next season in hope of finding some consistency.

Alberto Aquilani, Alonso's successor still has a lot to do to win over the Anfield faithful but they have won all five matches he has started and won just one of the seven matches in which he was a substitute. He clearly is starting to have some affect on the team; you can get 7/2 on him to score at any point.

Benitez will be without Fabio Aurelio and Martin Skrtel at the back, they are the only worries for him so he should be able to name a strong side.

After a tough season with injuries, it is not looking as bad for Steve Bruce as only Kenwyne Jones, John Mensah and Andy Reid will sit out. Darren Bent can't stop scoring and is 8/1 to get one first but the 11/4 on him scoring at any time looks good.

Liverpool should win, and they will want a few goals as any hope they have for fourth could come down to goal difference. I do think Sunderland could score though; Liverpool to win 3-1 would be where my money goes at 10/1.

Both teams to score also looks decent at 6/5 but the 3/1 on Torres to score first and Liverpool to win gives a lot better value than the individual prices.



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