Rafa Benitez has decided against a debut from the start for new signing Martin Skrtel tonight, but the defender is on the bench for the visit of Aston Villa. Reina’s back in goal after making way for Charles Itandje in the FA Cup last week, and the defence in front of him has Carragher and Hyypia in the middle, Arbeloa and Aurelio as the full-backs.
Up-front it’s no surprise to see Fernando Torres starting, and alongside him for this game is Dirk Kuyt. Attacking cover on the bench is in the shape of Peter Crouch and Ryan Babel.
There’s a comeback again for Harry Kewell on the left-wing, with Yossi Benayoun on the right-hand side of midfield. First choices these days for the centre are Javier Mascherano and captain Steven Gerrard, and both of those start. Xabi Alonso is on the bench.
UPDATE: Rafa Benitez has got out of the pre-match interview with Setanta, claiming he’s got a cold. In light of the current situation involving Tom Hicks and George Gillett’s potential sale of the club, he may well just be looking to avoid more questions on the subject. Banners are already on show which voice some of the bad feeling about the owners, who most supporters want to see bought out by DIC, and the banners will be accompanied by singing in protest at the owners’ poor custody of the club.
“They don’t care about Rafa
They don’t care about fans
Liverpool Football Club
Is in the wrong hands”
Liverpool: 25 Reina, 17 Arbeloa, 23 Carragher, 4 Hyypia, 12 Aurelio, 11 Benayoun, 20 Mascherano, 8 Gerrard, 7 Kewell, 18 Kuyt, 9 Torres
Subs: 30 Itandje, 14 Alonso, 15 Crouch, 19 Babel, 37 Skrtel
Aston Villa: 13 Taylor, 4 Mellberg, 5 Laursen, 15 Davies, 3 Bouma, 26 Gardner, 19 Petrov, 20 Reo-Coker, 7 Young, 10 Carew, 11 Agbonlahor
Subs: 1 Sorensen, 9 Harewood, 16 Knight, 21 Cahill, 27 Osbourne
Referee: Mark Clattenburg