Benitez warning for Wigan trip

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The Independent Online

Rafael Benitez, the Liverpool manager will warn his players against complacency when they face Wigan tonight by pointing to December's defeat at Portsmouth.

Having beaten the Latics three days previously, the Reds travelled to Fratton Park to face the Premier League's bottom side only to be beaten 2-0.

Liverpool have lost just once since then – at Arsenal – to haul themselves back into the race for Champions League qualification. A win at the DW Stadium tonight would lift them back into fourth as FA Cup action means none of their rivals had league fixtures at the weekend.

At the other end of the table Wigan are embroiled in a relegation battle after just one win in 13 matches, but Benitez is wary of reading too much into that statistic.

"In the Premier League you don't have too many easy games. Wigan are a club fighting for relegation so it will be very difficult for us," said the Spaniard. "Because Wigan are at the bottom of the table people will say 'You have to win this game', but we know it is not just this one. It will be Portsmouth, United or someone else so we have to be ready for every game.

"If you analyse the position in the table you maybe say it is easy, but we have the experience of [going to] Portsmouth so we know we have to be really focused for the game.''

Nothing less than a victory at Wigan will suffice, however, as Liverpool would then have played one more match than Tottenham – whom they would have a two-point advantage over – two more than Manchester City and three more than Aston Villa.

Benitez feels there are plenty more twists and turns to come, but knows Liverpool have to take care of their own interests first and foremost. "We have to see the situation in the table every week because you cannot change what other teams do," he said. "It depends on the other teams too. No one was expecting the top teams to lose so many games.''

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