Liverpool will be hoping to win a fifth successive game that would leave them just three points off of 4th place Chelsea despite losing Fernando Torres to the London club on deadline day.
Fans could only have dreamt of a top four finish coming into 2011 as they dwelled in the relegation zone under the stewardship of Roy Hodgson. A 3-1 loss away to Blackburn was the final straw for Liverpool’s new owners and they were quick to place club legend Kenny Dalglish back in the hot-seat. The decision was questioned by many but Dalglish has proved to have lost none of his tactical nous as the Reds go from strength to strength.
Sunday’s 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge was Liverpool’s fourth cleansheet in a row and goalkeeper Pepe Reina will be hoping to make that five when Wigan visit Anfield on Saturday.
One of the reasons for Liverpool’s recent revival and newfound defensive solidity has been Dalglish’s decision to play three at the back; a tactic that nullified the differing threats of Chelsea and Stoke City. The Scottish manager has opted to flood the central areas and in the process has been able to play all his players in their favoured positions.
Perhaps the greatest beneficiary has been Daniel Agger who has thrived in a three man defence that allows him play his natural game and bring the ball out of defence. A frustrated figure under previous management, Agger has been more than impressed by Dalglish and has been quick to acknowledge the difference he and Steve Clarke have made. He said: “What has Dalglish done? He is a positive guy. In football terms, he is positive.
“First of all because he likes to play positive football, going forward, and keeping the ball on the ground. and I think he is good among the players.
“The training sessions have been really good and I think everything starts at the training ground.
“If you can get that right you have a big advantage in the games.”
One thing you can always expect under Dalglish is the unexpected as his team selections remain as unpredictable as ever and it would be no surprise to Agger if he finds himself lining up in a four man defence against Wigan.
Dalglish is likely to select a more attacking team for the Latics visit and the three man defence may not be required against a side who won just twice away from home this season. Roberto Martinez’s team have never won at Anfield and are likely to adopt a defensive approach that will test the attacking abilities of a Liverpool side that have so often failed to break down the opposition over the years.
Uruguay forward Luis Suarez is set to make his first start for the club having sat out the Chelsea game, following a goal on his brief debut against Stoke City. Fellow new signing Andy Carroll misses out again thro
ugh injury while there are doubts over Steven Gerrard, Martin Kelly and Martin Skrtel who will all have late fitness tests.
Wigan recorded their first win in eight league games last time out, beating Blackburn 4-3 in a thrilling contest at the DW Stadium. The Lancashire side were inspired the returning James McCarthy that day and will be hoping that the young Irish midfielder can add spark to a midfielder that has looked void of ideas for the majority of the season. Despite never winning at Anfield the Latics have a decent record against Liverpool having beaten the Reds earlier in the season and avoided defeat in 4 of the last 6 meeting between the two sides. Roberto Martinez will be hoping to extend that run to 5 of the last 7 as he looks to make history on Saturday afternoon with a win on Merseyside.
THE TEAM I WOULD PICK:
I’d revert back to a 4-3-3 formation with both fullbacks pushing on just as much as they have in the last few games. Wigan offer little threat going forward so there is no need for Kenny to be cautious.
I can’t see anything but a home win here. The players are full of confidence and with Suarez set to start and Meireles on fire, Dalglish’s side will have far too much for a poor Wigan side. If the Reds manage to grab an early goal then the floodgates will open and there could be a mauling at Anfield.
Liverpool 4-0 Wigan