Reds v Reading – Xabi returns

Two changes made by Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez for today’s clash with Reading. Sami Hyypia drops to the bench with Jamie Carragher back to centre of defence from right back, Alvaro Arbeloa taking up the right-back spot today.

Attempts to overplay the significance of Xabi Alonso’s decision to stay at home with his wife as she gave birth to their first child, son Jon, have perhaps been dispelled by the Spaniard’s appearance in the starting line-up in place of Lucas.

Rafa has once again chosen to go with the formation that sees Fernando Torres supported by Ryan Babel, Steven Gerrard and Dirk Kuyt.

Reading were beaten at home by Liverpool in the League Cup earlier in the season, Fernando Torres bagging his first Reds hat-trick and bagloads of confidence. By the time the teams next met, in the League just days before Liverpool’s final Champions League group game, Rafa had one eye on the fixture that could have seen him sacked by owners looking for an excuse to get rid. He withdrew key players well before the end and was accused of throwing in the towel. It was a short while later the true reasons emerged, reasons that have seen sustained protests against the current owners.

Before today’s match another meeting was held by Spirit of Shankly, the Liverpool Supporters’ Union, who handed out leaflets to other fans before the game urging them to “Boycott all LFC Merchandise – Don’t buy the Club for Hicks!”

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 17 Arbeloa, 23 Carragher, 37 Skrtel, 12 Aurelio, 14 Alonso, 20 Mascherano, 18 Kuyt, 8 Gerrard, 19 Babel, 9 Torres
Subs: 30 Itandje, 4 Hyypia, 6 Riise, 11 Benayoun, 15 Crouch

Reading: 1 Hahnemann, 19 Rosenior, 22 Bikey, 16 Ingimarsson, 3 Shorey, 11 Oster, 15 Harper, 28 Matejovsky, 10 Hunt, 9 Doyle, 24 Long
Subs: 32 Federici, 4 Cisse, 5 Sonko, 12 Kitson, 30 Kebe

Referee: Andre Marriner