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Monday, 14 February 2011
LIVERPOOL 1-1 WIGAN MATCH REPORT
With Liverpool on their best run of form of the season, Liverpool were hoping to extend their winning streak to 5 games. Expectations have risen dramatically in a short space of time since the return of Dalglish and especially after Liverpool's tremendous win at Chelsea last weekend. I don't think there would be many Liverpool supporters predicting anything other than a home win but Wigan are a strong side and capable of beating anyone on their day.
Dalglish had to make changes for this one with Gerrard the biggest loss after picking up an injury against Chelsea he also missed England's midweek win over Denmark. Daniel Agger also picked up an injury midweek playing for Denmark in their loss to England. So Dalglish played with Carragher and Skrtel in the middle of defence with Kelly and Johnson the full backs. With Gerrard missing Dalglish brought Aurelio back into the side on the left in midfield with usual suspects Meireles and Lucas in the middle, Maxi was moved over to the right of midfield with Kuyt and Suarez in attack, Suarez making his first start for Liverpool.
Liverpool started the match on the front foot with Suarez having an appeal for a penalty waved away inside 3 minutes when he went down under a challenge from Caldwell. Liverpool looked for the opener and settled into their passing game quickly and on 18 minutes Kuyt had a shot saved by Al Habsi at the second attempt. Liverpool's attacking play was rewarded on 24 minutes when Aurelio sent a cross over from the left and Gohouri's headed clearance fell to Meireles just inside the box and he volleyed past Al Habsi to give Liverpool a deserved lead. Moments later Suarez almost made it 2-0 when he cut in from the left and fired a shot off the base of the far post. Wigan were not going to go down without a fight and they came back into the game and had a good spell of sustained pressure before the break with Reina having to make a save from a N'Zogbia free kick. Liverpool were relieved to hear the half-time whistle.
Seconds after the re-start Wigan almost equalised when N'Zogbia broke down the right only to see his low cross cut out by Skrtel as Rodallega looked certain to score. Liverpool's next chance came when Suarez hit a 20 yard shot which was well saved by Al Habsi. Liverpool were dealt a blow when Meireles had to go off on 54 minutes being replaced by N'Gog. This substitution affected Liverpool's passing game and Wigan came more into the game. Aurelio hit a free kick over the bar and Kuyt had a shot well saved from Al Habsi but Wigan were starting to look more threatening and they got their equaliser in the 65th minute when N'Zogbia fired in a dangerous inswinging cross which found Gohouri sliding in at the back post to prod the ball past Reina, there was a suspicion of offside about the goal but it counted. Wigan had a good spell after the goal as Liverpool found it hard to gain possession, but as the game wore on with time running out it was Liverpool that started to dominate as they looked for a winner, Suarez went close again crashing a free-kick off the bar and had a curling effort ending up in the crowd. In the closing stages Aurelio went close with a long range effort and Skrtel headed over but Wigan held on for a point and Liverpool's winning streak ended.
I think this game highlighted how threadbare our squad is when we have key players out. Gerrard always is a massive miss and Agger has been playing so well although I don't think we missed him too much, but for me the turning point in the match was when Meireles had to leave the field our midfield suddenly lost its way and its passing game, I was worried at the time when I saw him going off and N'Gog coming on, as I don't think N'Gog is good enough, but it just shows the lack of strength in depth in the squad. I thought we played quite well and passed well and created chances but we just couldn't get a second goal. Suarez impressed and was a real handful for the Wigan defence. Lucas had a good game on his 100th league appearance for Liverpool. It was a day typical of our season as luck deserted us with Suarez hitting the woodwork twice and Wigan's equaliser looking offside for me. Wigan did make it difficult and they would argue the deserved a draw but I think we did enough to win.
Man Of The Match - Suarez - a real threat all day and so unlucky not to score, plenty more to come from him.