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Liverpool vs Aston Villa: What will Rafa do?

Well, I'm hoping he puts out our best XI despite having to go to Toulouse next Wednesday. There are no new nor niggling injuries that I have heard of, so here's who I'm thinking will start and/or possibly play tomorrow.

GK - Pepe Reina - If I was Rafa, I'd play Charles Itandje next Wednesday since he's probably familiar with Toulouse, which makes Pepe a no-brainer here
LB - John Arne Riise - Really no choice here unless Rafa goes completely bonkers and plays Insua, highly doubtful though
CB - Jamie Carragher - If he's fit and rested, Carra will get the call everytime
CB - Daniel Agger - ditto
RB - Steve Finnan - Until one of the kids step up or we sign somebody, I don't think we'll see Arbeloa starting since he can provide cover for all four backs
LM - Harry Kewell - provides much needed EPL road experience
CM - Steven Gerrard - the only time I ever see our skipper not starting is when he's not fit, it's against a much lesser opponent, or it's an irrelevant match
CM - Xabi Alonso - As much as I would like to see Mascherano or even Sissoko start here, I think Rafa will put a lot of importance on this match and Xabi just has more experience than the other two
RM - Jermaine Pennant - He's our starting right winger. period.
F - Dirk Kuyt - He's our deep lying forward and should start a large majority of our league matches
F - Fernando Torres - I think Rafa starts him over Voronin to give him a boost of confidence and also Voronin is more versatile and is more useful from the bench

Charles Itandje - probably won't play anyhow
Alvaro Arbeloa - provides coverage for all the back positions
Sammi Hyypia - will not play unless definitely needed, but great to have just in case
Javier Mascherano - not sure if he's ready to go post-Copa, but he did play a little in our last preseason match
Yossi Benayoun - can cover a plethora of spots and has EPL experience

I thought about this one a while and I came to the conclusion that we probably need to field our most experienced squad. Torres is the only one who doesn't fit this bill, but we really need him to get off to a good start and his size and strength are invaluable.

The bench is really hard to pick because we just have so many options. I omitted a true back-up striker but Benayoun can play up there and if we have to we can move Gerrard or Kewell forward.

The hardest to pick is probably who'll play beside Gerrard. I guess Rafa could do a 4-2-3-1 formation and playing an any two combination of Xabi, Momo, and Mascherano, but I'm not sure how experimental he'll feel with this being the first match of the year. The thing that makes me think he'll do this is a draw on the road is not really that bad of a result, but I'm hoping we really go for this one with all we've got.

I guess we'll find out in less than 19 hours or so.

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