Liverpool still not achieving their goals at Anfield
Spurs draw at home with Palace as QPR beat Burnley in basement battle
Raheem Sterling of Liverpool goes down in the penalty area during the Premier League match against Sunderland at Anfield. Photograph: Scott Heavey/Getty Images
Premier League round-up: Brendan Rodgers’s decision to rest Steven Gerrard failed to pay dividends as even the Liverpool captain’s emergence off the bench failed to inspire his side to break down a resolute Sunderland as the game finished 0-0 at Anfield .
Tuesday’s must-win Champions League tie at home to Basle, followed by a trip to Old Trafford, meant this was a game which was always earmarked for the 34-year-old midfielder to sit out.
In protecting the midfielder’s legs for supposedly greater challenges Rodgers placed the emphasis on those who, in years to come – if not before should Gerrard not agree a new deal by the summer – will have to replace the skipper.
They struggled to live up to expectations and, although Gerrard’s appearance with 23 minutes to go lifted his team-mates, particularly Raheem Sterling, they still could not find the breakthrough and had to settle for a point.
Only Aston Villa and Burnley have now scored fewer goals at home, where Liverpool have won just three of eight matches.
Sunderland strung out a long line of blue shirts across their midfield whenever Liverpool were in possession in their half, which was understandable considering they had just lost 4-1 to Manchester City after a win and three successive draws had given their season some stability.
They were content to allow players like Liverpool’s two centre backs Martin Skrtel and Kolo Toure and midfielder Lucas Leiva to have the ball, confident the chances of them doing any damage was minimal.
It put greater onus on the creative attacking trio of Sterling, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana – plus full backs Glen Johnson and Alberto Moreno – to find a way through, but they struggled to make inroads.
Tottenham’s poor home form made a worrying return as they stumbled to a 0-0 draw against relegation-threatened Crystal Palace.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side looked to have turned a corner when they overcame Everton last weekend, yet that was followed by a heavy defeat to rivals Chelsea and things did not get much better against the Eagles.
This was the fifth time in eight Premier League matches that Spurs have failed to win on home turf and the locals let their dissatisfaction known.
Neil Warnock’s side came into this match with just one win from eight league games, but their performance belied that run and Tuesday’s deflating 1-0 home loss to Aston Villa.
Yannick Bolasie proved a nuisance from the outset and Jason Puncheon’s second-half introduction almost proved decisive as he hit the woodwork and had a goal disallowed on an afternoon in which the only thing Tottenham fans had to cheer about was the big screen showing Arsenal were losing at Stoke.
Charlie Austin scored his eighth goal of the season as QPR beat fellow strugglers Burnley 2-0 and climbed out of the bottom three for the first time since September.
Austin’s close-range finish looked to have a sealed a valuable three points after Leroy Fer had earlier opened the scoring but the striker gave Burnley hope when he was shown a second yellow card with 15 minutes to play.
Burnley squandered a handful of excellent chances in the second half but Sean Dyche’s side lacked cutting edge in the final third and are now just two points off the bottom of the table.
Exactly one month after his first full England call-up Saido Berahino found himself relegated to a bit-part role as West Brom’s sluggish run of form continued in a tepid 0-0 draw against Hull at the KC Stadium.
A ninth minute penalty miss from Graham Dorrans summed up another frustrating afternoon for the Baggies which Berahino – introduced for the final 18 minutes in place of Victor Anichebe – failed to salvage.
If the result will do little to ease the pressure on their under-fire boss Alan Irvine, neither will it work wonders for Hull, who slid into the relegation zone after this stalemate which extended their own winless run to eight games.
Stephen Quinn came closest for the Tigers when his flicked header from a Jake Livermore cross almost caught out visiting goalkeeper Ben Foster in the 59th minute, but the sense of frustration soon returned.