With Steven Gerrard out injured and Xabi Alonso suspended, it’s the South American pairing of Javier Mascherano and Lucas Leiva that commands Liverpool’s central midfield.
Fernando Torres and Dirk Kuyt, both rested from the starting line-up in the Reds’ last match, the 2-3 victory at Portsmouth, start up-front today.
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Dossena, Carragher Skrtel, Lucas, Mascherano, Benayoun, Riera, Kuyt, Torres.
Subs: Cavalieri, Hyypia, Aurelio, Babel, Ngog, Spearing, El Zhar.
Anything short of a win for the Reds would be a disaster after Manchester United moved eight points clear at the top of the Premier League yesterday with victory over Blackburn.
Rafa Benitez reiterated the importance of victory this afternoon in his matchday programme notes. He writes, “I said this week that it was crucial for us to focus solely on today’s game with Manchester City. There has been a lot of talk about our forthcoming Champions League tie against Real Madrid, but first we have another important Premier League match.
“We didn’t need any distractions from the job at hand here this afternoon.”
Kick-off at Anfield is 3pm and the match is not live on TV in the UK. See our forums for discussions on the match and links to streaming video of the game