Liverpool travel to Pride Park on Boxing Day to face Paul Jewell’s Derby County side. The Premier League‘s whipping boys were hammered 6-0 at Anfield early in September.
Derby should be a different propostion with Jewell as their new boss and being at home – but still Liverpool fans will be predicting another comfortable win after the 4-1 win over Portsmouth on Saturday.
Long term injury victim Jermaine Pennant is definitely out, Daniel Agger is almost certain not to be fit in time, while Steve Finnan, Xabi Alonso and Fabio Aurelio are all close to first team returns – one could be involved against Derby.
Peter Crouch is suspended following his dismissal at Chelsea last week meaning Andriy Voronin is likely to make an appearance, possibly replacing Dirk Kuyt alongside the in-form Fernando Torres.
Ryan Babel could also make a start in place of Harry Kewell.
From The Telegraph:
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez is likely to shuffle his side for the trip to Derby with a tough trip to fourth-placed Manchester City – who have a fine home record – next Sunday.
Benitez has already made 223 alterations to his Liverpool side this season, on a match-to-match basis, while he has also used 77 substitutions, making it a remarkable 300 changes in player personal in 28 matches so far.
At Derby, Ryan Babel, Andriy Voronin, Fabio Aurelio and Lucas are all in the running for a starting place.
Jack Hobbs could also get another run-out in defence while Xabi Alonso could also continue his comeback from injury.
Provisional squad: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Hobbs, Hyypia, Riise, Aurelio, Benayoun, Gerrard, Alonso, Mascherano, Kewell, Babel, Lucas, Sissoko, Crouch, Kuyt, Torres, Voronin, Itandje.
Reds at Derby
The last time the Reds travelled to Pride Park was back in 2001 when they won 1-0 courtesy of an early Michael Owen goal, but the meeting before that saw them run out 4-0 victors with Emile Heskey grabbing a hat trick.
Liverpool have played Derby six times away, winning four and losing twice (in 1998 and 1999).