One team managerless and without direction after seeing their maverick Italian dumped before matters got too hand of hand. The other, in desperate need of three points after two painful losses, the danger of their bright start to the season unravelling looming larger than ever.
Manchester United's Phil Jones tackles Liverpool forward Luis Suarez in their Capital One Cup third round match at Old Trafford, September 25
When Sunderland host Liverpool in their English Premier League game at the Stadium of Light, a lot more than three points will be at stake -- it will be about getting back on track.
Liverpool suffered two disappointing 1-0 losses last week - to Southampton and painfully to Manchester United - and manager Brendan Rodgers will want the Reds to bounce back as soon as possible.
The return of Luis Suarez to the Premier League will of course be extremely welcome, after the Uruguayan had a decent game in the Capital One Cup third round loss to United.
The pleasing aspect about that match was the understanding that seemed to exist between Daniel Sturridge and Suarez - maybe the return of the latter will finally force the former to actually pass the ball for once, because Suarez is as, if not more, demanding of the ball.
Liverpool, who can go second with a big win over Sunderland, were poor against Southampton, and they have missed the verve and vision of Philippe Coutinho, who is out through injury.
However, if Suarez is on song, then he is capable of unlocking any defence single-handedly and Sunderland's biggest concern will be keeping the enigmatic Uruguayan quiet.
The Black Cats are currently under caretaker manager Kevin Ball, after the management's patience with Paolo Di Canio finally ran out.
Ball led them to a win in the Capital One Cup in midweek, but the real test will be on Sunday, in front of their home fans, against a side that has spent a considerable time in the early season at the top of the table.
Sunderland have just one point from five games so far and are rock bottom, and if they want to avoid going the QPR way, after having bought scores of players in the summer, then things need to change quickly.
Team News: Ball will be pleased by the 2-0 win over Peterborough in the League Cup, which saw previously discarded midfielder Lee Cattermole impress. However, Sunderland will have to do without the services of prime striker Steven Fletcher for at least four weeks with a shoulder injury.
"The news is better than we feared," Ball said. "It's four to six weeks which is good news for us. I've been downstairs and Steven has a smile on his face; albeit he realises that it's four to six weeks. Hopefully he'll be back within that time and he'll be a great addition to the squad."
Wes Brown and Phil Bardsley remain sidelined, while Fabio Borini is ineligible to play against his parent club. Former Liverpool man Andrea Dossena, though, could feature after shaking off a thigh injury.
Liverpool have doubts over defender Daniel Agger, while Glen Johnson, Aly Cissokho and Sebastian Coates are definitely ruled out along with Brazilian Coutinho.
With the 3-5-2 formation working reasonably well against Manchester United, it will be interesting to see whether Rodgers sticks to it once again, or reverts back to his favoured 4-2-3-1.
Key Men: Sunderland: With Fletcher out injured, the onus falls on Jozy Altidore to find the back of the net and the American will be desperate to make an impression against Liverpool.
Liverpool: All eyes will be on Luis Suarez and the forward will want to get his Premier League season off to a goalscoring winning start. Simon Mignolet will also want to keep a clean sheet against his former club after moving from Sunderland in the summer.
Where to watch
The match is scheduled for an 8.30 p.m. (IST) start with it set for a live telecast on Star Sports 2. You can also watch the match online by clicking the official link HERE.
Expected lineups: Sunderland: Westwood; Gardner, Cuellar, O'Shea, Colback; Cattermole, Ki; Johnson, Giaccherini, Larsson; Altidore.
Liverpool: Mignolet; Toure, Skrtel, Sakho; Henderson, Gerrard, Moses, Lucas, Enrique; Sturridge, Suarez.
Prediction: 2-1 to Liverpool
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