Wigan vs. Liverpool: Preview, Team News, Key Stats and Projected Lineups

Peter BrownellContributor IFebruary 28, 2013

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 17:  Raheem Sterling of Liverpool in action with Ivan Ramis (R) and James McCarthy of Wigan Athletic during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Wigan Athletic at Anfield on November 17, 2012 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

Wigan Athletic host Liverpool on Saturday in a match critical to their battle to stay in the Premier League. 

Wigan are currently in 17th place in the league table, tied with Aston Villa at 24 points.  A home win against the Reds, currently in eighth place, would gift three points the Latics desperately need at this point in the season.

The teams head into the match with similar records in their respective last six games.  Liverpool have won two, lost two and drawn two; Wigan have won three, lost one and drawn two.

The last time Wigan and Liverpool played was on November 17, 2012.  Liverpool won easily, scoring three goals and shutting Wigan out.  The mercurial striker, Luis Suarez, gave the Wigan defense fits all game long, notching two goals, completing five dribbles and putting up seven shots.

Liverpool certainly dominated this match in all facets of play, but two metrics particularly stand out in their winning performance: chance creation and ground-duel winning percentage.  The Reds more than doubled the Latics in chance creation, mustering up 16 to to Wigan's seven.  They also held a serious advantage in one-on-one ground battles, winning 59 percent of ground duels. 

Wigan were particularly futile in terms of wide play, attempting a scant 12 crosses and only connecting with a teammate on one of these occasions.

Liverpool have outscored Wigan so far this Premier League campaign 49 to 33.  The former putting 156 shots on target and the latter 114.  The Reds have been the more productive dribbling side, completing 272 successful dribbles to Wigan's to 182.

Fans of Roberto Martinez's side can be pleased knowing that their Spanish defender, Adrian Lopez, played his first 90 minutes since December recently.  He hopes to be back in their lineup very soon.  

The bad news: One of their top defenders, Maynor Figueroa, is certain to miss the match with a knee injury

Priority's one, two and three should be to somehow contain Suarez if Wigan hope to prevent a repeat of their last match against Liverpool.  Maintaining possession early in match and keeping the ball away from one of the world's best strikers for as long as possible will be crucial.


Projected Lineups 

Wigan: Ali Al-Habsi; Paul Scharner, Gary Caldwell, Jean Beausejour; Emmerson Boyce, James McCarthy, James McArthur, Roger Espinoza; Shaun Maloney, Arouna Kone, Franco Di Santo

Liverpool: Jose Reina; Glen Johnson, Jamie Carragher, Daniel Agger, Jose Enrique; Stewart Downing, Lucas Leiva, Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson; Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge