A year ago, in this same month of March, a win against Liverpool proved to be a major turning point for Wigan Athletic’s fortunes. The 2-1 surprise result at Anfield was the catalyst that helped kick-start Wigan’s season and to ultimately retain their Premier League status. Can Latics once again raise their game and beat Liverpool in today’s encounter at the DW Stadium?
There was a time when the visit of Liverpool would bring trepidation to the hearts of Wigan Athletic supporters. In fact, during their first four years in the Premier League Wigan lost all of their home games against the Reds. However, since then the tide has turned and Wigan have had an unbeaten home run against them in the past four years, albeit with a single 1-0 victory in 2009-2010 through Hugo Rodallega’s volley.
Wigan come into this fixture on the back of an inspiring 3-0 at relegation rivals, Reading. However, their home record this season has been poor, winning only two league games at the DW Stadium up to this point. If they are to stay afloat in the Premier League for another season it is vital that the home record improve. There is some doubt about Maynor Figueroa’s fitness, following the nasty challenge on his ankle by Pavel Podrgebnyak last week. Antolin Alcaraz is ready to step into the centre of defence if the Honduran does not make it. Otherwise the lineup is likely to be the one that faced Reading last Saturday.
Times have changed since the teams met at Anfield in November. Brendan Rodgers had brought in younger players to revitalize his team and to galvanise his senior professionals into action. His strategy has largely worked – exit from the Europa League apart – and the ‘old guard’ has responded . Liverpool have steadily climbed up the table and now sit in 8th place. They have drawn 6 out of 13 away games, as much as any team. Despite their ups and downs over recent years they still have the kind of quality players that are staffed by a wage bill around three times that of Wigan. Steven Gerrard has proved a thorn in the side so often for Wigan and the home team’s defence will have to find a way to cope with the spectacular Luis Suarez.
The statistics suggest a draw as a possible outcome, although the bookmakers’ odds favour Liverpool. However, Liverpool must have learned from past experience that there is no way that Wigan can be written off. Providing they play at their highest level, a win for the home side remains a distinct possibility.