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By ESPN Staff

Jewell: Liverpool out of title race

Wigan manager Paul Jewell has written off former club Liverpool's chances of winning the Premiership title this season.

Jewell watched the Reds stifled by Portsmouth in a goalless draw at Anfield on Wednesday, which left them trailing leaders Manchester United by 16 points.

Jewell's side are next up tomorrow for Liverpool, who are yet to win away in the league, taking just two points and scoring one goal in seven games on the road.

The 43-year-old, who supported Liverpool as a boy and started his playing career at the club, is as surprised as anybody at how they are struggling this season.

Yet, while Jewell feels the title is beyond their reach, he is certain boss Rafael Benitez's side will come good - hopefully following the game at the JJB Stadium.

When asked whether Liverpool could win the championship, Jewell replied: 'They can, but I don't think they will.

'The title race is a fight between Manchester United and Chelsea.'

Jewell added: 'Liverpool will be disappointed with their points tally and, by their standards, they won't be impressed with their away record.

'I think everyone is a little surprised at Liverpool's form, none more so than themselves, and they'll be scratching their heads.

'But there's enough time for them to put it right, and I'm sure they've a Champions League place in mind.

'Maybe they will even win the Champions League again because, at this moment, they seem to be performing a lot better in Europe.

'But they've too many top players not to finish in the top four, and I'm pretty certain that's where they will finish.

'So we're not going into the game thinking Liverpool are on a decline or a slide. They're just not getting the results they desire.

'I know, as does everybody else in the country, that will change, and maybe they are just one away victory from kicking on.

'I just hope it's not against us tomorrow.'

Sentiment certainly goes out of the window as far as Jewell is concerned because, while he may be a Red, his allegiance is undoubtedly to the Latics.

'It's not a big game for me, it's a big game for Wigan because it is the next one in the Premier League,' insisted Jewell.

'Okay, Liverpool is where I started. I supported them as a boy and played for them as a youngster and they will always be important to me.

'But I'm not sentimental. This is no different to any other game. Wigan is my only concern because I'm manager at the moment, and we're looking to get three points.

'As far as Liverpool is concerned, I only ever want them to lose two games, and those are the ones against us.

'So I'm not going into the dugout tomorrow with a red and white scarf. It will be blue and white - and that's not Everton!'

Former Liverpool striker Emile Heskey is poised to start after returning from a calf injury by playing 60 minutes as a substitute in last week's 3-1 defeat at Tottenham.

Skipper Arjan de Zeeuw is again a doubt after missing the game at White Hart Lane with a toe injury.

However, fellow centre-back Fitz Hall should start after he returned against Spurs following five weeks out with an ankle problem.

Wingers Gary Teale and Antonio Valencia are definitely out with hamstring injuries, which means David Cotterill could start on the right.