Saturday, December 29, 2007

Manchester City vs Liverpool, Sunday 30/12, 4.00pm

Its a televised test for Rafa as Hicks criticises teams mental strength

As I've said before, in the frenzied world of the Premier League Rafa Benitez in particular always seems to be on the edge of another media round of criticism and speculation, be it be his rotation policy or his seemingly ongoing spat with Liverpool's American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

The latest in that saga has seen Hicks give an interview to Sports Illustrated, talking of Benitez 'pouting' to the media and arguably criticising the teams performance against Manchester United accusing them of not believing they could win (I think he's spot on actually). All in all, another bout of a story that just won't go away.

So to the game against Manchester City at the Eastlands stadium. Benitez has some major injury problems, with the one position he is short of cover at giving him the biggest headache. Daniel Agger is still not fit, Sami Hypia is doubtful, while possible stand-in Alvaro Albeloa has the flu, which leaves rookie Jack Hobbs. Elsewhere Jermaine Pennant is still not fit, Peter Crouch is suspended, while Xabi Alonso is fit to continue his comeback into the first team. He showed at Derby flashes of what Liverpool have been missing - he holds them together well and his range of passing is superb.

My hoped for Liverpool team: Reina, Finnan, Carrager, Agger/Hypia, Arbeloa, Gerrard, Mascherano, Alonso, Kewell, Torres, Babel.

For Manchester City Elano and ex-red Dietmar Hamann are set to be restored to the line-up after being rested against Blackburn. Michael Johnson is still out injured.

Footy Focus prediction - I just can't call this one!!


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