01 December 2006

Liverpool at Wigan 12.02.06

10am. Available in the US live on Setanta Sports.

Liverpool: 7th place; 22 points out of 15 games
Wigan: 13th place; 18 points out of 13 games

Last 2 meetings:
1-0 Liverpool (a) 02.11.06
3-0 Liverpool (h) 12.03.05

Last 3 games:
Liverpool: 0-0 Portsmouth (h); 1-0 Man City (h); 2-0 PSV (h)
Wigan: 1-3 Tottenham (a); 0-0 Aston Villa (h); 3-2 Charlton (h)

Goalscorers (league):
Liverpool: Kuyt 5; Crouch 2; Agger, Alonso, Bellamy, Fowler, Garcia, Gerrard, Gonzalez, Riise 1
Wigan: Camara 5; Heskey, McCulloch 3; Scharner 2; Baines, Jackson, Valencia 1

Referee: Howard Webb

Guess at a squad:
Finnan, Carragher, Agger, Riise
Pennant, Gerrard, Alonso, Garcia
Kuyt, Crouch

Options are still very limited on the left flank, with Aurelio, Gonzalez, Kewell, and Warnock all out. Alonso is back in the squad, but questionable; he’s included here out of hope and lack of other options. On the other hand, I also don’t want him rushed back, as he was for the FA Cup final last season, and Riise was earlier this year, so there’s still a chance we'll see a reprisal of a center back, probably Carra, in midfield.

Bellamy returns as well following the conclusion of his court case. My belief is he’ll probably come off the bench. I’m still wary of him being put on the flank, I don’t see Liverpool lining up with 3 up top, and I’m sticking by my assertion a few weeks back that Kuyt/Crouch is (or at least should be) the preferred pairing.

A lot depends on who’s going to Galatasaray midweek. We’ve already heard from the official site that Paul Anderson, Lee Peltier, and Danny Guthrie will probably feature, among others. Kuyt could get a game off here and start with Fowler in Istanbul, but then again so could Craig or Crouchy.

I’ve said it before, and I’m sure it will come up again. It’s vital that Liverpool take some the opportunities they get, and score an early goal. Everyone knows the away form has been poor. But I’m still of the belief it’s bound to come good, and Liverpool is more than capable of putting them past Wigan at the JJB. I’m fully impressed with Paul Jewell and what he’s done at Wigan, and it should be a tough game. And please don’t take that as patronizing because it’s certainly not meant to be. It’s simply that knowing the talent in the Liverpool squad, I’ll continue to believe that it’s only a matter of time before all this talk of away form and lack of goals goes away.

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