10am, live in the US on Setanta
Last 4 head-to-head:
1-1 (h) 01.02.08
1-0 Liverpool (a) 09.29.07
2-0 Liverpool (h) 04.21.07
4-0 Liverpool (a) 12.02.06
Last 3 matches:
Liverpool: 3-2 City (a); 3-1 PSV (h); 2-0 Everton (a)
Wigan: 0-1 Boro (h); 2-1 City (h); 4-1 Ipswich (a)
Liverpool: Torres 5; Babel, Carragher, Gerrard, Kuyt 1
Wigan: Zaki 5; Valencia 2; Heskey 1
I reckon we’re far enough into the season where I can start listing the goalscorers. It’s about a month later than last year, but I’ve been waiting for someone other than Torres to have more than one.
Also, I’m fully aware that the first goal against Boro was given as an own goal to Pogatetz, but I still maintain it was Carra’s. I’m okay with this blog being the only place that lists it.
Referee: Alan Wiley
Guess at a squad:
Arbeloa Carragher Agger Aurelio
Benayoun Gerrard Alonso Riera
With Torres and Babel out, I imagine the squad will look a lot like the one that won against United a month ago, only with Gerrard healthy and Skrtel absent. Liverpool will probably stick with the 4-4-2, Kuyt should shift up top, and Benayoun’s more likely than Pennant to replace him on the right.
There’s a chance Liverpool will rest some after an international break and with Atletico and Chelsea looming, but the team’s playing well, and Benitez will want to see that continue and keep the momentum going.
As Mascherano and Lucas are both coming back from South America, they’ll probably be restricted to the bench. I may be wrong, but I don’t think either has started after an international break. With Alonso in fine form, and the defensive duties of Mascherano less necessary, I think it would have been Gerrard and Xabi in the center anyway.
Similarly, I’m interested to see Kuyt as a striker. Don’t get me wrong, Torres is irreplaceable, but this is one of those games where Kuyt might not be the best option on the right. I’ve been thrilled with his performances, and the subsequent accolades, over the past few weeks, but he’s better on the right in a back-and-forth game where his work-rate is crucial.
No slight to Wigan, but this is at Anfield. Liverpool should be attacking from the off and is likely to see a fair bit of possession. Benayoun’s tricks from the right (where he’s usually better than on the left) could provide the creativity needed to unlock a packed defense, which we’ve come to expect when teams travel to Liverpool. Plus, Kuyt’s been getting goals recently, and a spell up front (where he saw some time for Holland on Wednesday) will hopefully keep them coming.
After two months of the season, it looks like if you can stop Zaki, you stop Wigan. And Zaki’s questionable having missed Egypt’s last match with a calf injury. But, having heard the ‘one-man team’ charge leveled at Liverpool for years, I’m always dubious of it. Wigan were unlucky to ship a late goal to Middlesbrough, and shut Chelsea down apart from a spectacular Deco free kick.
Both Palacios and Valencia can be dangerous on their day. Palacios just returned from South America, so he may not figure, but Valencia came back early after a red card over the weekend. And I have to mention Chris Kirkland, as he’s stayed healthy and been a big part of Wigan’s stinginess. Plus, ex-Liverpool keepers always seem to be immense when they come back to Anfield.
And I hate when Liverpool faces Steve Bruce-led sides. Benitez has never beaten a team managed by Bruce in the league – Brum did the double in 04-05, two draws in 05-06, and draws with Brum and Wigan last year. Here’s hoping that’s finally remedied tomorrow.