Team v Newcastle – Pennant, Yossi and Lucas come in

With one eye on the second leg Champions League clash with Inter Milan in midweek Rafa was never likely to field a completely unchanged side for today’s home clash with Newcastle. The cynical actions of Mark Noble of West Ham who was lucky to get away with just a yellow for an off-the-ball strike at Mascherano means Rafa had at least one change forced on him.

In for Mascherano comes Brazilian youngster Lucas, and Ryan Babel and Dirk Kuyt are both rested, replaced by Yossi Benayoun and Jermaine Pennant. Torres is up front after two hat tricks in his last two home games.

Hyypia is again on the bench, Rafa giving Martin Skrtel another chance to impress alongside Jamie Carragher. Still no sign of Daniel Agger.

One-time Reds hero Michael Owen returns to Anfield for the second time as a Newcastle player, knowing he’ll get a mixed reception from fans who in some cases still feel betrayed at his decision to allow his contract to run down to the point where it had 10 months left to run, no doubt hoping for a Bosman a few months later, and his reported decision to not call Real’s bluff a year later to return to Anfield instead of joining Newcastle. Despite that Rafa has continued to show interest in the player on-and-off since. Many fans consider his contributions over his time at Anfield are enough to forgive his actions in the summers of 2004 and 2005.

Former Red Kevin Keegan is of course the Newcastle boss these days, in his second stint in the role.

Jose Reina 25 13 Steve Harper
Alvaro Arbeloa 17 21 Habib Beye
Jamie Carragher 23 25 Abdoulaye Faye
Martin Skrtel 37 27 Steven Taylor
John Arne Riise 6 3 Sanchez Jose Enrique
Xabi Alonso 14 16 James Milner
Leiva Lucas 21 22 Nicky Butt
Jermaine Pennant 16 14 Charles N’Zogbia
Steven Gerrard 8 11 Damien Duff
Yossi Benayoun 11 10 Michael Owen
Fernando Torres 9 17 Alan Smith



Charles Itandje (GK) 30 34 Fraser Forster (GK)
Sami Hyypia 4 6 Claudio Cacapa
Peter Crouch 15 9 Obafemi Martins
Dirk Kuyt 18 20 Geremi
Ryan Babel 19 39 Andrew Carroll

Referee: Peter Walton

Kick-off: 3:00pm GMT