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Liverpool vs. Wigan: Complete Preview, Team News, Projected Lineups

Pradeep KumarAnalyst INovember 27, 2016

Liverpool vs. Wigan: Complete Preview, Team News, Projected Lineups

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    Eleven matches gone, twelve points in the kitty and a below-par 13th position to show for.

    This is the story of Liverpool Football Club this season.

    Brendan Rodgers, following the game against Chelsea, had stressed on the need to bring in “materials” to help steady the ship.

    But did that message fall on deaf ears? We’ll find out on January 31.

    Meanwhile, Joe Allen’s form looks to be heading towards the Isle of Man on a roller coaster ride. The 22-year-old has looked increasingly out of sorts and has been a culprit of losing possession inside the Liverpool half more times than one in recent games.

    Nuri Sahin seems not to have woken up as much as he should have from his pedestrian mode, whilst Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez continue to drag the whole team on their own.

    Given that a tough first phase of matches, involving league top dogs, are behind the Reds, the time is right for Rodgers’ men to start kicking some balls into the net, scoring points along the way.

    Coming in first is Wigan Athletic whom Liverpool host this Saturday.

Team Form—Liverpool

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    Liverpool played out a hard fought draw against Chelsea last weekend.

    The Reds struggled to control the game in their own half during the first 45 minutes and were fortunate enough to have walked back at halftime with only a solitary goal against them.

    Luis Suarez’s equaliser for Liverpool against the European Champions meant that Brendan Rodgers’ side have now drawn three games in succession.

    That equates to six points lost, a number when tallied to their current score would have put them up in the top bracket.

Team Form—Wigan Athletic

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    Wigan Athletic are right behind Liverpool in the points table and a positive result against the Merseysiders would allow them to leapfrog their opponents.

    The Latics are enjoying a decent start to their season this campaign scoring crucial victories over Tottenham and West Ham United in the process.

    Wigan, who had nailed a win the last time they were out and about at Anfield, will be looking to that historic victory to buoy them to perform even better this time.

Team News

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    Liverpool will be without Martin Kelly and Fabio Borini, who are the club’s long term absentees.

    The return of Brazilian Lucas Leiva is highly anticipated but it won’t be before the end of this month.

    Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, set to earn his 100th England cap, Glen Johnson and young debutant Raheem Sterling will all play in the friendly against Sweden midweek. Participation of these players are subject to them reporting back from international duty without an injury.

    Daniel Agger, who last week revealed that he had played through a groin problem against Chelsea, will be a doubt.

    Pepe Reina may go through a late fitness test once again before getting the go-ahead. However, all early signs point to Brad Jones retaining his spot in the lineup.

    For Wigan Athletic, only Spanish winger Albert Crusat is out on the injury table.

Lineup—Liverpool

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    Rodgers started last week’s game against Chelsea using a five-man defence system that spectacularly failed to yield the desired result.

    So expect Rodgers to stick to the 4-3-3 system with Sterling and maybe Suso/Oussama Assaidi for company. Wigan’s defenders would do well to man-mark Luis Suarez and cut out the Uruguayan to keep Liverpool down.

    Chelsea achieved this in the first half of last weekend’s game but still couldn’t prevent the trickster from pulling his side level on 73 minutes.

    Clearly, Suarez is Liverpool’s lifeline and without him Liverpool would have hit rock bottom long back.

    Trivia: Raheem Sterling made his Liverpool seniors debut in this fixture last season.

Lineup—Wigan Athletic

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    Roberto Martinez, pipped by Brendan Rodgers to the Liverpool manager post during the summer, has been using a similar attacking formation as the Irishman for this season.

    Fortunately for Martinez, his brave approach has so far favoured himself and his team. The three man defence system, an idea lifted from the Italian Serie A, sure seems to have found takers within the Premier League as well with Martinez and Man City’s Roberto Mancini being the experimenters.

    Regulars Arouna Kone, Shaun Maloney and Franco di Santo will feature in the three man attack system. Di Santo has also been included in the Argentine national squad set to face Saudi Arabia in a midweek friendly fixture.

Prediction

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    A win would lift Liverpool into the top half of the table.

    However, any position change hinges on the result of the Newcastle vs. Swansea game at St. James’ Park.

    Score line: 1-0

    For Liverpool to achieve this score line, it is essential that their back four remain on their toes all through the game.

    Certainly, it won’t be a walk in the park and Wigan’s attackers would definitely be a handful to deal with. However, experience will count under such circumstances and the Skrtel-Agger partnership would be hoping to call upon that when needed.

    As for Liverpool, do not bear any doubts in mind about the prospective goal scorer. Heavy odds stacked in his favour, expect Liverpool’s Uruguayan maverick to step up for the occasion.

    A Wigan upset or a nil-nil draw is still very much on the cards given the home side’s recent record.

    However, Brendan Rodgers must find that bit extra motivation to drive the team in order to present a case to the owners come January.

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