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Sunderland-Liverpool Preview

By CHRIS ALTRUDA

STATS Editor

(AP) -- LONDON (SE) - It's a very simple formula for Liverpool: When Luis Suarez scores, good results happen.

The Uruguayan striker looks to build on his brace Wednesday when the Reds host Sunderland at Anfield.

There may be no team as dependent on one player to score goals as Liverpool (7-7-6) is with Suarez, who is tied with Newcastle's Demba Ba and Swansea's Michu for second in the league with 13 goals, one behind Manchester United's Robin van Persie. While Ba and Michu have higher percentages of their team's goals than Suarez, the offensive system manager Brendan Rodgers has installed to funnel the ball to the striker has resulted in him taking a whopping 108 shots, most in the Premier League and 21 more than Ba, who is second.

That's nearly a third of Liverpool's team total, but Suarez's proficiency justifies it. He scored his two first-half goals in a six-minute span Sunday to spark the Reds to a 3-0 victory at Queens Park Rangers, helping them improve to 4-5-0 in league play when he finds the back of the net. It was the third multigoal game of the Premier League and he has 16 in all competitions.

"When you've got someone like Luis Suarez you're always going to cause teams problems," midfielder Joe Allen told the team's official website. "When Luis plays like that he's unstoppable. He's scoring a lot of goals for us that season and long may that continue."

Suarez has been fairly proficient versus Sunderland (5-7-8), scoring three goals in four lifetime matches. Liverpool has taken points in all three of those matches while losing the one he failed to score.

The Reds have been feast or famine in alternating wins and losses their last five games - they've outscored opponents 10-2 in three wins and been outscored 6-2 in two defeats. Liverpool has played well at Anfield of late, taking points in five of six matches (4-1-1) there after failing to win any of their first four.

Sunderland were thwarted in a bid for a third consecutive victory Saturday, losing 2-1 at home to Tottenham Hotspur after conceding both goals in a three-minute span early in the second half. Still, the Black Cats have a chance to emerge from the challenging and busy holiday schedule with three wins in four matches, highlighted by their win over reigning champions Manchester City on Boxing Day.

"We can draw comfort from these last two games," manager Martin O'Neill told Sunderland's official website. "The commitment of the team was very strong and there's plenty of spirit there as was displayed in the last two games.

"Liverpool are a fine side with some good players. They're just finding their feet at the minute and they've got a real calibre of player at their disposal in Luis Suarez."

The Black Cats are hoping Steven Fletcher can find his road bearings for a second straight match outside the Stadium of Light. He has five of Sunderland's 10 road goals, with the team getting two wins and two draws in those matches.

Suarez salvaged a 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture at the Stadium of Light on Sept. 15, scoring in the 71st minute to negate Fletcher's strike in the 29th. The Black Cats have emerged with draws in their last two trips to Anfield but have beaten Liverpool only three times in their last 19 league matches (3-6-10) dating to the 2000-01 season.

Updated December 31, 2012

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