Teams: Liverpool v Sunderland

The manager’s critics will be complaining ahead of tonight’s game against Sunderland with Rafa choosing a line-up containing three centre-backs. Either the manager is using one of them at full-back, or he’s going for three at the back. If it works this line-up could prove quite positive.

The three centre-backs are Jamie Carragher, Martin Skrtel and Sami Hyypia. The only full-back in the side is Fabio Aurelio, but he’s played further forward in the past and could be utilised that way instead, with Jermaine Pennant playing on the right.

In midfield Rafa’s starting with Gerrard, Mascherano and Lucas, one of whom would have to play wide left should Rafa be going for a 4-4-2. That seems unlikely. Criticism might come for Mascherano being used in front of three centre-backs, some would consider that too defensive against a team so much lower in the table and at home too, but if done well the formation should allow the centre-backs to come forward from time-to-time.

Up front Rafa of course picks Fernando Torres, and gives Peter Crouch another chance to stake a claim for a regular start alongside him.

The subs’ bench is fairly positive too – Benayoun, Babel and Kuyt all included.

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 23 Carragher, 4 Hyypia, 37 Skrtel, 12 Aurelio, 16 Pennant, 8 Gerrard, 20 Mascherano, 21 Lucas, 15 Crouch, 9 Torres
Subs: 30 Itandje, 3 Finnan, 11 Benayoun, 18 Kuyt, 19 Babel

Sunderland: 1 Gordon, 26 Bardsley, 5 Nosworthy, 44 Evans, 15 Collins, 16 Chopra, 8 Whitehead, 12 Miller, 10 Richardson, 11 Murphy, 17 Jones
Subs: 32 Fulop, 23 O’Donovan, 6 McShane, 39 Waghorn, 45 Prica

Styles gives strange penalty at Anfield v Chelsea earlier in season. He missed the next match.Referee: Rob Styles

Kick-off: 17:15