Writer: Barry Worthington
Date:Wednesday December 16 2009
Wigan Athletic travel the short distance down the East Lancs Road to Anfield tonight hoping to add more misery on a despondent Rafa Benitez who is seeing his season disintegrate in front of his eyes.
Fresh from the 2-2 draw at Stoke on Saturday the Latics will be buoyed by the return of Hendry Thomas to the midfield and will be hoping to go one better as they face an under fire Liverpool side who have just 3 victories in their last 15 games.
The match will be an emotion charged affair with celebrations planned by Liverpool to mark the 50th anniversary of legend Bill Shankly taking control of the Anfield reins and Liverpool players from the Shankly Golden Era are set to be paraded on the pitch before the kick-off, Keegan, Thompson, Toshack, Smith and many others, oh how Benitez must wish that he had some of them at his disposal.
It will be important for Martinez to ensure that his Latics players aren`t caught up in the razzmatazz and stay focused on the game in hand, with the world watching the stage is set for a big performance, lets just hope that we can be the party poopers.
Latics boss Roberto Martinez:
'We've got plenty of games coming up in a short period of time, and it's very exciting. The performance at Stoke gives us a platform to go into the next game full of confidence knowing what we have to do.
'Liverpool are on the back of a disappointing result, but they have a world-class squad which alone makes them a very dangerous side.
'In a way their game against Arsenal was very similar to ours against Birmingham City recently; in the first-half they were very dominant and you have found it difficult to believe that they would not have got anything out of the game, if not the win.
'They'll start very brightly on Wednesday and we need to be able to cope with that, and make sure we continue with the standards we showed at Stoke.
'If we approach the game in the right way we'll get the rewards, because in football you always get the rewards long-term.
'Anfield is one of the Premier League's most glamorous places and we need to be at our best to get the points we couldn't get at Stoke.
'Rafa is the most successful manager that Spanish football has ever produced, with plenty of achievements and experience.'
Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez:
'The main thing now is that we have to show confidence, we have to show character'
'They play for Liverpool. We have to improve, we have to show character when we have problems and we must keep our confidence high.
'The only way to change things is to keep working hard and in this situation, when you are making mistakes, you have to be strong and try do things properly in the future.'
'We kept giving the ball away against Arsenal, it is something we have to improve on.
'Now we play Wigan on Wednesday here and we know we have to do better.
Javier Mascherano and Glen Johnson are both to have fitness tests and are rated doubtful, Babel, El Zhar and Riera are definitely out.
Reina; Johnson, Degen, Carragher, Agger, Aurelio, Mascherano, Aquilani, Lucas, Kuyt, Gerrard, Benayoun, Ngog, Torres, Cavalieri, Insua, Skrtel, Dossena.
World class striker and always a threat
Emerson Boyce should be fit following a bang on the head on Saturday and Hendry Thomas will return following suspension.
Kirkland, Melchiot, Bramble, Boyce, Figueroa, N'Zogbia, Thomas, Diame, Scharner, Rodallega, Scotland
Probably been the player of the season so far, little Charlie is the Latics most creative player without a doubt
The Latics and Liverpool have met on ten previos occassions in all competitions
Liverpool have won 8 and there have been 2 draws.
Last Five Meetings
28/01/09 - Premier League - Latics 1 Liverpool 1
18/10/08 - Premier League - Liverpool 3 Latics 2
02/01/08 - Premier League - Liverpool 1 Latics 1
29/09/08 - Premier League - Latics 0 Liverpool 1
21/04/07 - Premier League - Liverpool 2 Latics 0
Phil Dowd (Staffs)
Meet the ref article can be found here
Heart says Latics win 2-0
Head says 1-1 draw
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Date:Wednesday December 16 2009
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