Liverpool would move within one point of the Premier League summit with a win over Sunderland at Anfield on Wednesday.
Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool (20-5-5) are the form team in England’s top flight, with six consecutive league wins and a remarkable 24 goals scored in those games. Authoritative 3-0 wins over both Southampton and Manchester United were followed by a remarkable 6-3 victory over Cardiff on Saturday, with Luis Suarez bagging a hat trick.
The team’s outstanding form at such a pivotal moment of the season has led many to tip them for the Premier League title – including defender Glen Johnson, who dubbed the Reds "the neutrals’ favourites" – but Liverpool manager Rodgers is not getting carried away.
"We’re far from being perfect, I think Saturday showed that," said the Liverpool boss. "We’re nowhere near the finished article but whilst we’re learning and whilst we’re improving we’ll hopefully continue to pick up the points and see where it takes us. We’ve still got a hell of a long way to go before we’re near to where I want us to be, but certainly we’re making strides in order to get there.
"We’re really looking forward to playing at Anfield now on Wednesday night. Hopefully the supporters can really get behind the team well before kick-off, get the atmosphere revved up for the game and we’ll look to continue on this great run."
Visitors Sunderland (6-7-15) go into Wednesday night’s game in a perilous position in the league, three points from safety. The Black Cats do have two matches in hand over the four teams directly above them, but are in a poor run of form that saw them concede twice in the first half to slip to a 2-0 defeat against fellow relegation strugglers Norwich City last time out.
"It was one of the worst starts we’ve had," admitted manager Gus Poyet after the game. "I wasn’t expecting it – we were ready and the team was strong enough to compete, but we didn’t for half an hour.
"What an opportunity it is on Wednesday – to play against one of the most in-form teams in England in their own stadium. I want the players to go there and have a really good go, without any regrets."
Sunderland have lost three of their last four in the league, being outscored 8-1 in that run and failing to score in their last two games.
Over the course of the campaign, Liverpool have netted more times (82) than even Manchester City (76), and 20 more times than league leaders Chelsea. However, out of the league’s top seven, only Tottenham Hotspur (40) have conceded more than the Reds’ 38.
The Reds have scored three or more goals in nine of their last 11 league matches at Anfield, and have bagged 13 in their last three at home – averaging a goal every 14 minutes.
A Suarez brace and another from Daniel Sturridge helped Liverpool to a 3-1 win when these teams met at the Stadium of Light in September. That made it back-to-back wins for the Reds against Sunderland after managing just two victories against the Black Cats in the previous seven league meetings.
Liverpool are without the injured Jose Enrique (knee) for Wednesday’s game, while Sunderland are expected to be missing Steven Fletcher (ankle) and Keiren Westwood (shoulder).