Teams: Liverpool v Wigan

Rafa Benitez has made changes to the side that lost to Arsenal on Monday, at least two of them enforced.

Glen Johnson is out of the squad completely, Fernando Torres restricted to the bench.

Pepe Reina is in goal and after that it waits to be seen just how Rafa intends to line the players up.

Skrtel joins Carragher and Agger as the centre-backs starting the game, which could suggest Rafa is starting with three at the back.

Another option of course is that Carragher will move to right back in a more conventional back-four with the returning Emiliano Insua on the opposite side of the pitch.

With Lucas on the bench it’s possible that Steven Gerrard will start alongside Mascherano in the centre of midfield, with Kuyt partnering Ngog upfront. Aquilani is on the bench again.

Liverpool desperately need to win the game and win it in style to restore some confidence.

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 5 Agger, 12 Aurelio, 22 Insua, 23 Carragher, 37 Skrtel, 8 Gerrard, 15 Benayoun, 20 Mascherano, 18 Kuyt, 24 Ngog
Subs: 1 Cavalieri, 16 Kyrgiakos, 32 Darby, 38 Dossena, 4 Aquilani, 21 Lucas, 9 Torres

Wigan: 1 Kirkland, 7 Scharner, 17 Boyce, 19 Bramble, 25 Melchiot, 31 Figueroa, 6 Thomas, 14 N’Zogbia, 15 Gomez, 27 Diame, 20 Rodallega
Subs: 22 Kingson, 4 Amaya, 5 Cho, 10 Koumas, 16 Sinclair, 18 De Ridder, 9 Scotland

16 thoughts on “Teams: Liverpool v Wigan”

  1. I have stuck with Rafa through and through, but after seeing this team he has put out tonight i am starting to have serious doubts,
    What is wrong with him? why not at least play stephen darby at right back, carra is to slow these days (sorry carra lad) Aurelio in midfield – i ask you???? and ngog up front?????
    We need 3 points so why leave Torres and aquilani on the bench??????
    Reina

    Darby Carra Agger insua

    Gerrard mascherano

    Kuyt Aquilani benayuon

    Torres

    I rest my case – Rafa please get it right we need the points !!!!!

  2. Having watched the LFC v Wigan game, it was a releif to see LFC win in spite of the Manager.
    This season I have gone from 100% support to 50% support for the Manager, the tactics are mostly very defensive and he waites far too long before making substitutions, further I really do not understand waiting until almost 70 miutes to bring on Aquilani, how does he expect the player to learn how to play with the team if he does not get time with them.
    I find myself groaning whenever Lucs comes on to the field, I do not see a technical or skilful players, unless being able to foul a lot, counts. Ngog has made big progress this season, and nice to see.

  3. Even though we won the game I still find it hard to be positive.
    I want to back the manager but his tactics really are just daft at times.
    What appears to make perfect sense to 99% of the living planet, Benitez seem to take the other 1% view on things.
    If his tactics are followed by a win then everyone think’s he is a genius. When everyone should really be thinking we won inspite of his tactics.
    I’m sorry to be negitive again but even with the “off field ” problems we should have a more balanced and consistent side by now.

  4. Whilst the lineup disappointed me I took great heart from Ngog’s 10th minute goal which I thought he took really well. Do his detractors know he’s scored 8 in 10 starts? Not bad for a rookie!

    Yes, we did look a bit fragile at times but to balance that Kirkland made two superb saves from Kuyt so they were lucky not to be further behind by the time Torres scored a scrappy goal.

    Carra at RB is our only option when Johnson and Kelly are both injured. He did okay in a position he doesn’t like.

    I thought Benny had a good game but Gerrard is either not fully fit or is still not match fit as he had another quiet game.

    And do you realise that over the last 4 games we have the same record as Chelsea? P4, W2, D1 L1. Funny how all the press criticism is directed at Rafa but strangely not at Anchelotti??

    We’ve had plenty of tight wins in the past. A win is a win and will help confidence. Last season we scored a lot of goals in the last 10 mins. This season we seem to be conceding in the last 5. Once this problem is sorted we will get stronger.

    Imagine how City fans will feel this morning with all the money that Hughes has available!

  5. Just seen the “display” at Portsmouth – What a disgrace..

    How Benitez can have the front to blame the Ref is beyond me..

    Benitez made far more mistake than the Referee did !

    At the end of the day, the players are to blame as they are on the pitch not performing – BUT i think they (the players) have lost faith in the manager too…
    They either dont agree with or dont understand what Benitez wants

  6. Portsmouth away. Prems bottom club.

    Benitez starts with the most defensive team possible, with a defender on the left wing, and one up front.

    Beat again. Enough said.

    You would think after such an appauling start the tactical genius would at least try starting with something different.

    Back this man at your peril. He has bought badly and now hes in massive trouble.

    Aquilani cant even get in the team ahead of Lucas. Nightmare.

  7. In watching Portsmouth vs LFC I became very saddeded, I have been suportig LFC since Billy Liddell and Albert Stubbins days and cannot remember a more disjoiunted, swabbleiing bunch of players ever, once Masha had committed his stupid fould all sense and reason as well as trying to play the game disappeared. We have gone further down the road with Benitze that with Houlier, and it only the lack of money that prevents his sack now. But waite, Tom and Gerry have come up with a brilliant plan, instead of putting their hands into their own pockets to save the situation, they are trying to find some crazy sucker who will put in a 100 mil to become a minority shareholder with these brittiant sports/ business men, do you thik they aught to think twice? But theres also and alternativeplan is to sell Torres, Gerrard, Masha, and Reina and that fixes the money poblems, the only very small problem is we won’t have a team but theres always the CC League.

  8. On the subject of tactics and their importance in the modern game, Bob Paisley used to say “We don’t go in much for tactics, we just concentrate on putting out a balance team and solves whatever tactic the other teams may employ”.

    Simple, isn’t it.

  9. Great quote Ken,

    And thte fact is that Benitez continues with the same old tactics game after game. The football is awful.

    Why after only winning the handful of games we have does he not change it, try something a bit different.

    This man cannot take us any further. The players know this too. I thank him for what hes done but we gotta start going forward again and stop the rot.

  10. It’s a good idea I didn’t choose to write this immediately after our horrible loss to Portsmouth at the weekend, as it has taken me a couple of days to calm down enough to actually view the situation with some calm and rationality.

    Generally though, this was a shocker. And I’m starting to wonder if I could feel any worse than I have done already this season in regards to our club – I previously thought I’d hit rock-bottom after the Arsenal game. It does still amuse me how people will point the finger at one or two factors though – such as Dossena’s start, or the omission of Aquilani. Would the same people argue that the team that started was not good enough to beat bottom-placed Pompey? I’m not looking to absolve Rafa of blame totally here either, rather just suggesting that if you are going to point the finger, it should be in the right direction.

    Our problem is clearly confidence and this is running through the team like a virus at the moment. You could more accurately, therefore, point the finger at Rafa for not being able to motivate the players into performing how they should. The traditional ‘British’ form of motivation, that being back-slapping, war-cries and a penchant for broken teacups, is certainly not the Benitez way. It certainly seems as though we need this at the moment – a good, old-fashioned ‘kick up the arse’ to get the blood boiling again. You could postulate though, as with so many other teams that employ a less extroverted man-in-charge, that the coach’s assistant often adopts the role of flinging things around when necessary. Sammy Lee is more than capable of kicking off and his passion for the club is without question, so really we should have this area ‘covered’ through the backroom team Rafa has assembled.

    After all, Benitez isn’t being employed as a kindergarten teacher given the responsibility of leading a bunch of pre-pubescent, hyperactive toddlers across a road. Our team is laden with professional sportsmen, who have a wealth of experience at all levels of the game. They should be fighting for personal pride, professional integrity, international recognition and the millions of fans across the world and in the stadium singing their name. And, damnit, for their pay cheques. They are being very handsomely rewarded to live out most people’s ‘dream’ career for a relatively short time. Should the burden of blame not be placed at least equally on them?

    Now, I’m not suggesting that we should haul our players in front of the stocks (though a good slap around the chops surely wouldn’t hurt), I am merely trying to suggest that it seems strange our team is getting little or no blame for our current plight. This is, unless, you subscribe to the theory that Rafa has ‘shattered’ the confidence of our players, the poor darlings. Come on. In the case of some younger players with limited experience looking for guidance, this factor ‘could’ undoubtedly have an effect on their progression. But if people with the experience of Gerrard, Carragher, Kuyt, Benayoun, Mascherano can’t step up to the plate as guiding lights in times of crisis on the pitch then I think we should all reanalyse the reasons why we hold top-level sportsmen in such high regard.

    Don’t forget that this team (barring Xabi and Hyypia) were so close to the title last season, so they have it in them (as we all know) to play a hell of a lot better than they are now. Rediscovering this sort of form is the only thing holding us back, but if you truly believe that playing Aurelio (or Riera) on the left of midfield against Pompey would have entirely transformed our mentality on the pitch, you are living in delusion.

    People scream ‘RAFA OUT’, while being blind to the repercussions of losing our manager. The best-case scenario in this worst-case situation, as I see it, would be to put King Kenny in charge, if he were willing to do it. Otherwise we’d have to try and convince another manager of equal or better experience, reputation and quality to a club that has been riddled with problems from the boardroom level down since the American owners took charge (not to mention the massive debt we’d incur for buying out Rafa’s contract). How many managers do you honestly believe would fit this criteria and be willing to make the move? Do you think many of them would have been able to cope much better with the issues we have faced this season?

    Again, this is a cry for rational response and realism. Don’t just scream ‘RAFA OUT’, consider the consequences. Don’t just believe media-hype targeting our manager, consider how much he is solely to blame.

    Those who argue that Rafa has spent money badly should consider the percentage success-rate of similar rivals before claiming that he has ‘wasted’ too much. Chelsea, Man.City and Manchester United can comfortably drop £30-40m on players that don’t perform to their worth without it affecting their squad to the detriment of their season (even Spurs can afford a bench that comfortably runs into tens of millions).

    Perhaps we need to readjust our sights to the current situation we find ourselves in, and I’m talking primarily financially. As some commentors have suggested recently, we can’t just expect to win things because We Are Liverpool.

    Benitez stated at the end of last season that we’d need to be ‘almost perfect’ this season in order to claim the title. It couldn’t have really gone much worse so far, and it seems as if our manager is under no illusions as to the nature of the task ahead.

    This brings me to the aftermath to the Pompey game. There has been plenty of talk of Benitez’s ‘petulant’ responses to questions post-match. I’m not enjoying seeing this new sarcastic side of him, I have to say. But I get the impression from his body language and demeanour that Rafa is finally getting a little bit sick and tired of the repeated abuse he is getting from ex-players and the media. Picture the perennial group of school-yard bullies that attempt to wind up another kid by repeatedly clipping their ear, only to laugh and taunt the patient child when they finally react. If Benitez is not permitted to ‘lash-out’ every now and then at this current point in time, with the pressure he is under, he is either totally apathetic about his job and our club or barely human.

    There is no doubt that we are going through some dark times. We have a mouth-watering first-eleven, yet haven’t had chance to show it for its full worth. Benitez will undoubtedly make it through this season (and if he doesn’t, I ask the detractors how confident they would be of H+G picking a capable alternative) and if we haven’t shown a massive improvement by May I will personally be willing to accept ‘I told you so’ from the doubters.

    Until then, I refuse to condemn a manager we surely all held in high regard at the end of the last season (and if you didn’t, you need a reality-check) to the scrap-heap based on one half of a term that has been fraught with this many problems. In the meantime, I can but hope for patience and realism from some of the rest of the fan-base as well.

  11. Darren i agree.

    Hes had long enough. His man management skills are non existent. He never ever celebrates a goal, he never praises players after a good performance. This is an almost regimented management style that I’m afraid does not cut it with the players and is not the Liverpool way. Shankly was a personal manager who openly praised his team and players as was paisley.

    Benitez is unliked by the players. That’s obvious. That’s why we had the Gerrard leaving situation some years ago, that why Mashch wants to go and why Alonso left(amongst others). That’s how Crouch and Warnock were forced out and thats why the European cup winning assistant manager and trainers were got rid of.

    This arrogant man now has total and utter control of the club and boy how it shows. Its a horrible situation. The more influence and control he has the worst things get. Open your eyes people.

    Get this disaster out of our club and lets go back to how it should be. Personal managers with feelings and a desire to win and take risks.

    If not we can kiss goodbye to the spine of our side. The players do not like him.

    And lets stop all this comparison bullshit, and all the ‘what if this and what if that bullshit’ im sick of it. We’ve got a poor side, were losing to the bottom of the table clubs and we are miles behind the leaders. They are facts, so live with it.

    Benitez is in a massive mess. If we get beat on boxing day which is a possibility he must go.

    Oh how i bet he wishes as do the fans that we still had Bellamy, Crouch and Keane. Finnan and Warnock. Instaed of Voronin and Ngog, Dossenna and Lucas.

    But I’m afraid when your such an impersonal, arrogant self important man keeping loyal players just ain’t possible.

    And why does he keep coming out with such idiotic rubbish when being interviewed. He’s a laughing stock. He’s clearley running out of excuses. Its getting to that stage now that mirrors Souness’s reign at the club. Its horrible to admit but im so sick of this non descript, negative bullshit on the field that im hoping we get beat so this man goes. I spend alot of money as a fan, over a thousand pound a year on watching my team and i feel like im being robbed. I dont mind losing, i wouldnt care if we went down as long as we were trying, giving 100% and playing to win. At this moment we are not.

    How many times is Benitez going to say, ‘our season starts here’. It started in August, and apart from the display against Utd weve looked awful. Its time to really start our season, this time with a new man in charge.

    Christian if you do ever read these sites please listen to us fans who have the guts to stand out and say something against the rub of the green. I love my club and i do not want to see it go backwards. I want to see the title being won again. Benitez is failing us all. Please, please take action.

  12. Having said that we have a team full of international players who are obviously alot better than they are showing at the moment. It is unfair to lay all the blame on the manager as each individual player has his own responsibility to step up to the mark and perform for the shirt that he has on his back.

    I know Rafa is 100% committed to the club and that he is, however badly he is doing, trying his very, very best to put things right, in his own confusing way.

    The players themselves need to pull together and give everything for the cause. 4th place is still possible and a cup is not out of the question. On our day we can still beat the best. We need to be consistent, more passionate and more committed.

    Lets show this league what we are made of. Lets play every game as we did against UTD. Lets get back to winning ways.

    If Benitez is to be given more time, then lets start on the 26th and put everything behind us. Lets try to be a little different. Lets be more attacking and take a few more risks and lets finish this season the way we should have started it.

    We the fans have got to start making more noise at the ground. We ourselves are the 12th man and we have been to blame as well. Anfield has been quiet during the last few games. Lets make it roar again.

    Benitez, the players and the fans must pull together and win. This is the only way forward.

    WE ARE ALL TO BLAME BUT WE CAN ALL PUT IT RIGHT.

    You’ll never walk alone.

  13. It is very disheartening to read that Rafa has to sell before he can buy. He has made some dreadful buys and there are a number of players who should be sold but, the need is now not later after players have been sold. It is not as though the owners do not have a money, Gillett pocketed 500 Mil just recently and Hicks will shortly pocket a similar amount. They clearly do not understand the nature of the game, waite and your gone, (Torres has told them that). If they waite long enough they won’t get 100mil for their investment. Sorry not their investment, they didn’t put any of their money into it, they just borrowed and then gets the club to pay the principal and interest.

  14. Further to my last message.

    To Messrs Hicks and Gillet — Buy David Villa, who Torres dearly wants along side him and watch the difference in the attacking force .

    You want immoral profits but will do nothing to earn it.

  15. Villa and Silva could be the two best signings of the decacde, yeah they will cost a fortune but imagine the difference they could make.

    Would be a nice chrimbo present from the yanks.

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