Same eleven to face Magpies?

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Rafa Benitez is said to be tempted to start with the same eleven who played in Sunday’s defeat at Stamford Bridge for the visit of Newcastle to Anfield. It would be the first time the manager had choose the same starting line-up consecutively in 20 matches.

That would mean Stevie Gerrard remaining on the left side of midfield, allowing Sissoko and Alonso to cement a partnership in the middle and Pennant to hug the right by-line to supply width.

Up front will see former Magpie Craig Bellamy face his former club and no doubt be very keen to get off the mark domestically against his old team mates. His pace and running would no doubt be an effective tactic against Newcastle’s somewhat fragile back four. Alongside Bellamy should be a forward Glenn Roeder tried to sign in the summer – Dirk Kuyt.

For the visitors, goalkeeper Shay Given is ruled out after suffering a stomach injury in their 2-0 win over West Ham on Sunday, Steve Harper will deputise. Their midfield is strong with Parker and Emre and the new attacking threat of Duff and Martins is looking stronger with each game.

Squads:

Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Agger, Hyypia, Carragher, Aurelio, Pennant, Luis Garcia, Alonso, Sissoko, Gerrard, Zenden, Crouch, Kuyt, Bellamy, Fowler, Dudek, Gonzalez, Warnock.

Newcastle: Harper, Krul, Carr, Ramage, Babayaro, Bernard, Bramble, Moore, Taylor, Ramage, Huntington, Parker, Butt, Emre, Duff, N’Zogbia, Milner, Pattison, Ameobi, Martins, Sibierski, Luque, Rossi.

Referee: Mark Halsey

Last season: Liverpool 2-0 Newcastle, Boxing Day 2005; Gerrard, Crouch. Bowyer sent off.

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