Liverpool’s injury crisis at centre-back sees Rafa Benitez forced to play full-back Alvaro Arbeloa in the centre of defence in place of the injured Sami Hyypia. Hyypia has been outstanding in the place of the injured Daniel Agger, who has been missing for some time with a metatarsal injury. It was hoped Agger would be available today but he’s still not ready, and Rafa seems unwilling to put Jack Hobbs into the fire of what will be a difficult game.
Arbeloa was unable to play against Derby on Boxing Day due to a virus. His usual full-back positions are taken today by Steve Finnan and Fabio Aurelio, with Riise on the bench. Rafa’s gone for Kewell and Benayoun out wide, either side of Steven Gerrard and Javier Mascherano. Fernando Torres is partnered by Dirk Kuyt for this match.
A worrying name on the City team-sheet from Liverpool’s point of view is Didi Hamann. A real hero for Liverpool down the years, the German midfielder is one that the Reds will need to be wary of.
Manchester City: 25 Hart, 4 Onuoha, 2 Richards, 22 Dunne, 3 Ball, 7 Ireland, 21 Hamann, 16 Corluka, 15 Petrov, 11 Elano, 12 Vassell
Subs: 1 Isaksson, 29 Bojinov, 8 Geovanni, 10 Bianchi, 24 Garrido
Liverpool: 25 Reina, 3 Finnan, 23 Carragher, 17 Arbeloa, 12 Aurelio, 11 Benayoun, 8 Gerrard, 20 Mascherano, 7 Kewell, 9 Torres, 18 Kuyt
Substitutes: 30 Itandje, 6 Riise, 10 Voronin, 14 Alonso, 19 Babel
Referee: Uriah Rennie