After nine days without a game, Liverpool FC head to Wigan on Saturday looking to bounce back from their Europa League exit at the hands of Zenit St Petersburg.
A fine performance at Anfield saw Liverpool beat the Russian champions 3-1, but a 2-0 defeat in the first leg meant the tie finished 3-3 on aggregate and the Reds were eliminated on away goals.
Liverpool’s European exit at the hands of Zenit ended their hopes of winning a trophy this season and Brendan Rodgers has 11 Premier League fixtures remaining to try and ensure that his side are playing in Europe again next season. The chances of the Reds playing Champions League football are slim at best, with the Reds ten points behind fourth-placed Chelsea going into Saturday’s games. Catching up to fifth-placed Arsenal to earn a Europa League spot could prove tricky too – the Gunners are currently eight points ahead of Liverpool. However Rodgers is already looking ahead to next season and has called for his team to finish the current season as strongly as possible.
Two goals from Luis Suarez and one from Jose Enrique gave Liverpool a 3-0 victory over Wigan when they visited Anfield in November and with the Latics sitting in 17th place, the Reds are favourites to complete a league double over Roberto Martinez’s side. Wigan have won just three of their last fifteen league games, drawing four and losing eight, but Rodgers is taking nothing for granted.
In his pre-match press conference, the Northern Irishman admitted that Liverpool have been inconsistent this season and praised Wigan’s performance during their 3-0 win over Reading last weekend. Rodgers will be hoping the Liverpool side that won their last two games comfortably show up on Saturday, rather than the team that fell to disappointing 2-0 defeats against West Brom at Anfield and against Zenit in Russia.
Liverpool will be able to recall Philippe Coutinho for Saturday’s game, however Daniel Sturridge will require a late fitness test as he has not yet fully recovered from the thigh injury that was sustained in month’s 2-2 draw with Man City. Wigan may look to build on their victory last weekend by naming an unchanged side on Saturday evening.