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Liverpool 1, Wigan 1: Not Good Enough to Win


Wigan deservedly get something out of their trip to Anfield.

I'm going to have to be brief for now, as I had forgotten that I made promises to actually be worth a shit for the rest of the afternoon. Not sure that's possible for me on any day, but it'll be especially difficult after a disappointing performance and result.

A few points worth mentioning for me:

Wigan's Approach

I thought Roberto Martinez had his side well prepared, and they took the game to Liverpool for large spells and caused major problems at the back. There were a few times in the first half that Liverpool had sustained pressure, one of which ended in Raul Meireles' fifth goal in six matches, but for the most part Wigan were the more dominant side. That largely continued into the second half, and while the equalizer should have been ruled offside, it wasn't that surprising. Liverpool piled it on late, but for me Wigan would have been hard done by to leave with nothing.

Luis Suarez Up Front

All around a really positive full debut for Suarez. He moved well, linked up with Dirk Kuyt at times, and was active from opening to close. He clearly tired by the latter part of the second half, but he was almost always a nuisance for the Wigan defense when he had possession. Unfortunate that he didn't put Liverpool up 2-0 soon after Meireles' opener, as he freed himself with a nice feint and curled one off the far post, and his free kick that rattled the bar in the second half was Liverpool's best chance. It seemed like he went down a little easy at times, but overall he left me wanting more with an encouraging performance.

Trouble at the Back

As I mentioned, Wigan had a large part to play in the troubles Liverpool had at the back. A number of factors conspired against Liverpool here---the absence of Daniel Agger, less-than fully fit Martin Kelly and Martin Skrtel, and Glen Johnson fresh off a full 90 midweek in Denmark. Jamie Carragher looked lively enough, but as a unit the back line struggled in a way we haven't seen in weeks. Again though, take nothing away from Wigan, as they poured forward and made things plenty nervy throughout the match.

Questions in the Midfield

It's hard to say what exactly went wrong in the middle of the park other than general sloppiness. After raving about how well Lucas had been playing and promising more of the same, I thought he was more careless than usual in possession, and his struggles were compounded by the occasional lazy foul (and quite possibly the 90 minutes he turned in midweek). Raul Meireles had been turning in another good performance and capped it with the goal, and while his departure didn't necessarily spur Wigan on, it didn't help matters. Maxi played more steadily than last weekend but still didn't add much; Fabio Aurelio was impressive in spells and was his normal reliable self, linking well with Glen Johnson on the left and pushing things along. The absence of Steven Gerrard was definitely felt, but at current I'm having a hard time figuring out exactly how. If anything, the cutting edge we've come to expect in recent weeks was gone, and maybe that's down to an absent captain.

Tough Day for Dirk

Nothing changed in Dirk Kuyt's workrate or effort, but he regressed to a performance that saw him give the ball away far too often and struggle to exert any influence. He did link well with Luis Suarez, particularly in the first half, and did plenty of running up front, which is impressive in its own right after 75 minutes against Austria on Wednesday. As we know, though, when the squad struggles he struggles, and today was as good an example as any of that fact.

Not Forward, Not Backward

For me the result is probably more discouraging than the performance, in that I don't have any huge concerns that the positivity created by the last four matches has disappeared. There were negatives, no doubt---tired legs led to sloppy performances, we were reminded of the lack of depth and quality on the bench, and Liverpool had a match taken to them that they were expected to win. But we also learned more about Luis Suarez today, we saw Raul Meireles continue a ridiculous run of form (and now have to hope he's not out for too long), and have plenty left to look forward to from this Liverpool side.

I'm off for the rest of the day, but if anything pops up and I have time later I'll be back around. Hope you're all able to enjoy the rest of your weekend.

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