Wigan Athletic 1
This was a disappointing game for both sides. For us because we didn’t build on Sunday’s performance and for Wigan, because they dominated for long periods and only picked up a point.
There were some positives such as well, the point and more chances created! After the game HRH, ever the positive man, in speech if not actions, suggested it was also a good work out for the defence, which is just as well as they had plenty to do. However, no one really is kidded by this and Reds fans who saw this game must be disappointed by our inability to dominate the game and allow Wigan to boss it for long periods. Sitting back and defending our lead? A bit but we did have chances. Expectations too high? Probably. A reality check? Certainly.
HRH went for exactly the same line up as Sunday which meant no place for the allegedly fit again Glen Johnson, not even on the bench.
We began well with Lucas soon testing Al Habsi in the Wigan goal with along range effort that he was forced to tip over. Then after seven minutes the old one two pitched up again. Gerrard picked the ball up well in his own half and was allowed to advance before threading though a ball that took out three Wigan defenders before finding Torres. The man in form did the rest advancing to the edge of the area before stabbing it past Al Habsi into the bottom corner.
We were then at it again Gerrard finding Torres on the corner of the penalty area who although outnumbered crucially this time looked up and found support arriving in Gerrard. His little chip to Kuyt was returned and duly despatched over the bar. Although it was at an awkward height he should have perhaps done better with the finish?
However, it was a good, confident start emphasising that when we attack, as opposed to sitting back, and containing, we get the best results. Sadly that was the end of it and we appeared to lose our thread and Wigan took over. I can see what HRH was getting at, the defence did remain calm, dealt with it their advances but surely this is outweighed by the concern at the amount of possession Wigan had and our failure to break this up and reassert ourselves. We were also slightly fortunate that Wigan failed to get more players forward and get on the end of some good penetrating balls into the danger area.
Going in at half time Wigan were perhaps unfortunate to be a goal down? Sadly for us it wasn’t long into the second half before they got their equaliser. Prior to this we had made a number of errors giving the ball away cheaply which didn’t suggest confidence and perhaps portrayed frustration at Wigan’s continued dominance in the half. Konchesky committed a needless foul in the corner and then Jonjo Shelvey, on for Meireles gave the ball away to Rodallega who fed N’Zogbia causing Reina to intervene. Finally Stam, with Konchesky no where to be seen, was free to cross from the right. Reina could only parry it to Rodallega who made not mistake. Poor defending but we can have no complaints, it had been coming.
After that Wigan continued to dominate. We tried to get back into it by doing something different Pouslen was bought on allowing Gerrard to push forward and he should have won the game for us with a shot, from Maxi’s ball, that hit the bar. It was a hurried but spectacular effort, perhaps borne of the frustration of being dined chances for so long? Hindsight is easy but may be he could have taken it on a tad more and slotted it past the keeper?
Undeterred Wigan continued their assault on our goal N’Zogbia and Rodallega proving real pests every time they got the ball. Reina was forced to save late on from Diame and then N’Zogbia diving low by left hand near post. Had Lucas been quicker to read Torres’ cross right at the end we might have still won the game, but sadly a winner would, have been an injustice.
Wigan: Al Habsi, Alcaraz, Caldwell, Stam, Figueroa, Thomas, N’Zogbia, Gomez (Moses 68), Cleverley, Diame, Rodallega (Di Santo 86) Substitutes: Kirkland, Caldwell, Watson, Moses, McArthur, Di Santo, Boselli
Liverpool: Reina, Konchesky, Carragher, Kelly, Skrtel, Raul Meireles (Shelvey 46), Gerrard, Maxi (Eccleston 80), Lucas, Torres, Kuyt (C Poulsen 73) Substitutes: Hansen, Spearing, C Poulsen, Shelvey, Jovanovic, Ngog, Eccleston