Date: 2nd January 2008 at 10:32am
Written by:

Wigan Athletic travel to Anfield tonight to face Liverpool, a team who we have never even drawn against in seven previous meetings.

This will be a tough encounter for the Latics but we do have one thing on our side and that is Steve Bruces record against the Merseyside giants.

Bruce led his former club Birmingham City to two wins and three draws in five Premier League meetings with the Reds the latest coming this season with the Birmingham going to Anfield in September and coming away with a 0-0.

If the Latics are to get anything from tonights game then they must stop Torres and Gerrard the pair have bagged an incredible 27 goals between them this season and Benitez knows their value to the club

Benitez said ‘Both players are playing well, both are top class players and both have a commitment to this club – that is the key.

‘For the rest of the team to see them scoring goals, that is a boost.’

Whilst Benitez and Liverpool have their magic two Steve Bruce hopes to have his magic one back tonight

He said: ‘Hesk hasn’t really played in the first half of the season, so it is important he is fit for the second half.

‘You can see the impact he has here and the confidence he gives the rest of the players, so it will be good to have him back.

‘We showed we could win without him over Christmas against Newcastle, but a club like ours needs its big players fit.’

Heskey, if fit, will be facing a Liverpool defence without recognised centre backs with both Hyypia and Agger out Jamie Carragher will more than likely be partnered by Alvaro Arbeloa in the heart of the Liverpool back line

This could be the game where the Latics finally break their duck against one of the big four clubs and a draw earned at Anfield would be a truly spectacular result

Vital Quotes:

Steve Bruce:

“When you go to a place like Anfield you need to be at your best to get something, and its always a massive occasion for any club to visit there.

“Touch wood, Ive enjoyed a reasonable record there in the past, Liverpool in general, but to get something at Anfield would be a great achievement. We will go there full of confidence, and approach the game in the same way as we would any other.”

‘It would be fantastic if we could go there and get something, although we know it is a tall order.

‘There’s a huge gap between the top four and the rest of the Premier League.

‘But football always produces shock results now and then, and hopefully we can spring one tonight.

‘We know what we are up against. I saw Liverpool’s game at Manchester City on Sunday and they played very well.

‘They are a class team with some terrific individual players, in Fernando Torres they have a £25m striker and in Steven Gerrard a £35m midfielder.’

Chris Kirkland (Latics former Liverpool goalkeeper):

‘There’s no reason why we can’t win.

‘People will write us off and say we’ve no chance, but why not? Bolton beat Manchester United the other week.

‘If we go there and hide then we’ll get punished. You can’t go to grounds like Anfield and sit back. We have to give our all.’

Rafa Benitez:

‘He’s a manager with experience, who knows you need to work really hard to improve when you are bottom of the table.

‘He knows how to get the best from the players, so it will be a very tough game.

‘It’s a busy period for everyone, we are playing at Anfield and we have confidence in ourselves.’

Liverpool Team News:

Peter Crouch is available after completing a three-match ban but Sami Hyypia is still out, while Daniel Agger is unlikely to be fit.

Alvaro Arbeloa could stand in at centre half.

Liverpool from:

Reina, Finnan, Arbeloa, Carragher, Hobbs, Riise, Aurelio, Kewell, Babel, Gerrard, Mascherano, Alonso, Benayoun, Crouch, Kuyt, Voronin, Torres, Itandje.

Player to watch: Steven Gerrard

Superb and a threat every time he pulls on a Liverpool top. Latics will have their hands full trying to stop Gerrard

Wigan Athletic Team News:

Both Heskey and Koumas are expected to be fit for this one with both players having trained this week, Heskey is likely to go straight into the starting eleven whilst a place on the bench is the best Koumas can hope for.

Latics from:

Kirkland, Melchiot, Taylor, Boyce, Bramble, Kilbane, Valencia, Brown, Scharner, Landzaat, Koumas, Bent, Heskey, Aghahowa, Granqvist, Olembe, Koumas, Skoko, Cotterill, Hall, Sibierski, Pollitt.

Player to watch: Ryan Taylor

Been playing well since his return to the team following his recovery from a broken leg.

His dead ball delivery and free kicks are second to none

Match Facts & Stats

Last Season
Liverpool 2-0 Wigan Athletic
Kuyt 30, 68
Ref Mike Riley

This Season
Wigan Athletic 0-1 Liverpool
Benayoun 75
Ref Mark Clattenburg

The Latics and Liverpool have met 5 times in the league with Liverpool winning all 5

The Latics have only scored two goals in seven league and cup meetings between the two sides, Liverpool have scored nineteen.

Ref Watch:

Steve Bennett (Kent)

Card Watch

Matches – 17

Yellows – 60

Red – 4

Match Prediction:

Heart says 1-1 draw

Head says 2-0 Liverpool win

Next Fixtures:

FA Cup 3rd Round
Sunderland Vs Latics
Stadium of Light
Saturday 5/01/2008

Premier League
Derby County Vs Latics
Pride Park
Saturday 12/01/2008
3 pm

Premier League
Latics Vs Everton
Sunday 20/01/2008
1-45 pm