The draw, coupled with Manchester City's win at Newcastle, dropped Rafael Benitez's side to fifth in the Premier League and left them trailing leaders Arsenal by 12 points with a match in hand.

Striker Fernando Torres had put the home side ahead in the 49th minute but they could not find the important second goal and Titus Bramble smashed in an 80th-minute equaliser.

Wigan boss Steve Bruce has long had the Indian sign over Benitez and now he has managed to frustrate the Liverpool boss twice in the same season at Anfield with different clubs.

Bruce never lost a league match to Benitez while he was at former club Birmingham and earlier this season he engineered a draw for Blues at Anfield and he achieved a similar result on his return.

Winger Jermaine Pennant made his Liverpool comeback after being out since October with a fractured right leg, while Yossi Benayoun and Dirk Kuyt were rested to the bench, with Xabi Alonso also returning.

Wigan made one change from the side that lost at home to Aston Villa last time out, former Liverpool striker Emile Heskey returned from injury with Antoine Sibierski dropping to the bench.

The visitors' game plan was pretty obvious, putting every one behind the ball in their own half when Liverpool had possession, which was almost continuously in the opening period.

Heskey and Marcus Bent were quick to break and after spinning the ball around between themselves for long spells it was the loss of possession by the hosts, and a ball up to the big England striker, that forced Jose Reina into a swift run to the edge of the box to punch hurriedly away.

Liverpool were painfully slow in their build-up and the nearest they got in the opening stages was when Torres was judged fractionally offside when he got away to beat Chris Kirkland after 13 minutes.

Wigan were quick to make use of set-pieces and when a corner was not cleared Michael Brown lashed as 20-yard shot just wide of a post.

Kirkland saved well after 21 minutes when Javier Mascherano exchanged passes with Torres before rolling in a low shot.

From then on until the break it was Liverpool who were frustrated as they searched for openings, with Torres lifting a pass into the box only for Gerrard's snap-shot to be held by Kirkland.

Crosses from Pennant, Steve Finnan and Steven Gerrard all caused problems but without any end product.

Torres then saw a flicked header just clear the crossbar after a 25-yard Alonso free-kick, before the Spain striker set up Gerrard for a right-foot shot which he pulled wide of the far post.

The breakthrough for Liverpool came soon after the break when Finnan committed himself to attack to disrupt Wigan's back-line.

After 49 minutes he found Gerrard on the right and kept running for the return, which arrived perfectly for him to cross first-time to allow Torres to tuck the ball inside Kirkland's left-hand post.

Paul Scharner was booked after 58 minutes for a foul on Mascherano and when Gerrard fired in a fierce free-kick Kirkland spilled it and the Argentinian almost got on the end of the slip.

Scharner's late intervention stopped Torres adding another after a clever flick, before Kirkland saved well to his left from a Gerrard drive.

Liverpool needed the cushion of a second goal and Torres' cross-field ball presented Harry Kewell with a chance but he blasted inches over from 30 yards.

It was the Australian's last involvement as he was replaced by Benayoun after 73 minutes.

Mascherano was booked for a foul on Bent as Wigan broke quickly from defence and before the free-kick Wigan sent on Jason Koumas for Ryan Taylor.

But when the set-piece was lifted into the box Gerrard failed to get the ball away properly and when it fell to defender Bramble he lashed a shot past Reina for his second goal in as many matches.

Gerrard tried to make amends, firing a low shot at Kirkland that was pushed out with the Liverpool captain just failing to reach the rebound.

Liverpool sent on Peter Crouch and Dirk Kuyt for Mascherano and Pennant but they could not force a winner.