Liverpool go into their game with Wigan on Saturday - live on ESPN UK at 1730 GMT - knowing that their curse has been lifted by a 3-0 win back in November. The club had not beaten Roberto Martinez’s side in five previous games, dating back to December 2009. However, a Luis Suarez-inspired performance earlier this season has ensured that the favourites tag is firmly back on the men in red.
Manager Brendan Rodgers may have recently claimed his side "can be consistent", but the truth of the matter was exemplified in their last two Premier League games: a 2-0 home defeat to West Brom followed by a 5-0 hammering of Swansea.
When all is good, there are few better sides in England and the passing, vision and quality in the final third were all on show against a weakened Swans outfit. However, defensively the Reds are still suspect and have conceded ten more goals (34) than the league’s most miserly defence, Man City.
As they had last season, Liverpool will look to Luis Suarez to drive their attacking ambitions and the striker has netted 18 goals from his 112 shots. The Uruguayan is the league’s second most-potent scorer behind Robin van Persie and will occupy the minds of the Wigan defence as they look to prevent a goal-fest. It has been a long time - December 1 in fact - since a game involving the Reds contained less than two goals.
Wigan, meanwhile, are a team relatively reborn. History suggests that they will not progress much beyond 16th place this season, but chairman Dave Whelan’s only concern will be keeping the side in the top flight again. Moving out of the bottom three after a morale-boosting and hugely important 3-0 win at Reading, the Latics have won their two matches since returning from a warm-weather training camp in Tenerife by a combined margin of 7-1.
Their away form has been impressive, as their four wins have come on the back of clean sheets - the others coming against Aston Villa, Spurs and Southampton. But it is a different story at the DW stadium where they’ve shipped 27 goals from their 13 home games to date and have yet to stop the opposition scoring.
With the game being held at the DW Stadium, the Latics may be in for a torrid time of it but ultimately it depends on which Liverpool side turns up to face them.
Wigan player to watch: Arouna Kone. An unused substitute in the Ivory Coast’s failed African Nations Cup campaign, the striker has taken out his frustrations on opposition back in England and bagged back-to-back braces in the FA Cup victory over Huddersfield and the 3-0 win at Reading to reach double figures for the season. The Latics’ top scorer is full of energy after hardly exerting himself in South Africa at all, and will be key to the club’s hopes of success at Anfield.
Liverpool player to watch: Steven Gerrard. After a few seasons where the Liverpool skipper looked to be on the way out, this season he has come back strongly and has started in all 27 of the Reds’ games. With seven goals and nine assists, the creative force that Liverpool have been missing is firing on all cylinders and, although he is operating in a slightly different role nowadays, he will be keen to prove to his doubters that he is not ready to pass on the mantle just yet.
Key Battle: Lucas vs. James McCarthy: The tackling of the Brazilian has ensured that Liverpool’s ball retention and ability to mount counter-attacks has improved vastly this season. The midfielder is not flashy but plays a very important role in central areas to ensure that the Reds’ attack has a platform to build upon, and his recovery from long-term injury has been an important factor in the club’s assault on Europe. Playing a similar role for Wigan, McCarthy has impressed this season and has been linked with a move away from the club in the summer. “I think technically it is difficult to find a better player. James knows he needs another period of improvement, but from a technical point of view he can play in any team in the world,” says his boss, Martinez.
Trivia: Wigan Athletic's win over Liverpool at Anfield last season was their first-ever away victory over the Reds.
Stats: Showing the other side of their game against Reading, Wigan completed double the number of passes the Royals attempted (573 to 270). Steven Gerrard’s change in playing style is obvious when you consider he has attempted almost twice the number of long balls that he did in 2008-09 (303 to 170).
Odds: Liverpool (1.72), Wigan (4.50) and the draw (3.80) are on offer with bet365 while Luis Suarez is 4.33 to score first.
Prediction: Wigan have enjoyed a decent few results against the Reds, but confidence is high in the visitors and an away win should be on the cards.