Liverpool vs Wigan Athletic: Match Preview
Stadium: Anfield Stadium
Referee: Kevin Friend
Kick-off: 8:30 PM IST, Saturday, 17th of November
One of four different clashes this weekend between teams that are separated by just a point sees Roberto Martinez’s Wigan Athletic travel to Merseyside for a clash against 13th placed Liverpool, who are currently in an extended rebuild mode under Brendan Rodgers. Winless in their last three league games, and last five competitive fixtures, Liverpool fans have had little joy thus far in the season, and will be hoping to register only their third league victory tomorrow evening.
Wigan, on the other hand, have had an upswing in their fortunes, with two of their three league wins coming over the past three weekends. With a famous 2 – 1 win over Liverpool at Anfield last season under their belts, Martinez will be hoping to see his team put on an encore performance and take home the three points, along with some shattered Red pride.
Liverpool: D L D L D
Liverpool’s form, on paper, has been absolutely woeful, with results just failing to swing the right way for them in recent times. On the pitch, however, the Reds’ performances have not been half as bad as the results suggest, with more than a few bright moments already. Brendan Rodgers’ view to transition some fantastic youth players like Suso, and Sterling into the first team are extremely commendable, but the former Swansea manager will have an eye on next Thursday’s crunch Europa League game against Young Boys playing on his mind.
With Fabio Borini injured, Suarez remains Liverpool’s only accomplished senior striker, and will probably be accompanied in attack by the two aforementioned youngsters. With three league draws on the trot, Liverpool have fallen to thirteenth place in the league, somewhere they do not want, or deserve to be, with the burgeoning talent in the squad. A win at home, against Wigan might be just the tonic they need to resurrect their season.
Wigan Athletic: L W L W L
Wigan, who often find themselves embroiled in the relegation dog fight, have achieved significant results over the past few weekends, with wins over Tottenham and West Ham United dragging them a respectable 5 points above the relegation zone. However, with just 12 goals in 11 games, goals have been hard to come by for Wigan, especially after the loss of Victor Moses to Chelsea. Kone and Franco di Santo have played their part, but goals from elsewhere have been non-existent, a problematic area for Martinez. Defensively as well, Wigan have been weak, conceding 18 goals, the second highest for a team not in the bottom three; and with a three-man defence facing up to the tricky feet of Suarez, Sterling, and Suso, it could well be a long evening for the visitors.
Liverpool: Lucas Leiva, Fabio Borini, Martin Kelly, Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel, Jose Reina, Jonjo Shelvey.
Wigan Athletic: Antolin Alcaraz, Albert Crusat, Ryo Miyaichi, Shaun Maloney, James McArthur.
Luis Suarez vs Ali Al Habsi
Martinez’s strategy of putting out teams that play football rather than just lob the ball ahead and hope to get lucky has managed to keep Wigan in the top tier of English football for a while now. However, playing with a three man defence against someone with as many tricks up his sleeve as Suarez has is an ill-advised move, which could very well backfire. If indeed the slippery Uruguayan manages to slip past Caldwell and co., as he almost inevitably will, it will be up to the Omani ‘keeper, Al Habsi to stop him, and enhance his already glowing reputation. With 8 goals in the league already, Suarez is the joint top scorer, and will be hoping to increase his tally against a side which has managed only one clean sheet thus far in the season.
Arouna Kone vs Daniel Agger
Daniel Agger should be declared fit to start against Wigan tomorrow evening, and will face the prospect of coming up against impressive Ivory Coast striker, Arouna Kone. The man with the fancy hair has already scored 4 goals this season, and created two more, playing on the right side of a mobile Wigan attack. With a tendency to cut in from the wing, considerable pace, and strength in the air, Kone will certainly prove to be a handful for Agger, who will need to be at his best to prevent a repeat of last season’s shocking loss in this fixture.
A close contest to be edged by Liverpool. While it is understandable that Wigan fans will go into the game high on optimism, thanks to Liverpool having failed to beat them in their last five encounters, Wigan minus Rodallega and Moses appear to be a depleted force. With a poor defensive record as mentioned, and Suarez in prime goal scoring form, a Liverpool victory seems quite likely.