Sunday, February 13, 2011

Woodwork Denied Liverpool Fifth Consecutive Win

Wigan had scored only ten goals away from home prior to Saturday and faced a daunting task of scoring against a Liverpool defence which had kept four clean sheets in a row. Hugo Rodallega ensured points were shared at DW Stadium back in November and Latics boss, Martinez was hoping for a similar result. Wigan came to Anfield facing a Liverpool without Gerrard and Agger.

Aided by the midweek international fixtures, Wigan started the fresher side and were passing the ball well in the first twenty minutes. Liverpool looked flat and lacked sharpness in midfield especially. Yet the Reds posed the greater threat going forward with Luis Suarez and Dirk Kuyt building a good understanding. Jamie Carragher was a giant rock in defence once more but was powerless to stop Wigan equalising later in the second half.

When Raul Meireles volleyed in his fifth goal in six games, it looked like Wigan would be in for a three-goal hiding. Suarez had a great game and should have had a penalty when he was brought down early in the first half by Gohouri. Dirk Kuyt, unfortunately, had a poor game and this was characterised by his continued poor passing in this match.

Suarez's contribution to the game could have been more telling but he was denied by the woodwork twice. The first was when he dummied past a Wigan defender and curled a right foot shot past Al Habsi only to see the ball bounce off the post. He was then denied by the crossbar when he curled a freekick round the Wigan wall with Al-Habsi rooted. The Uruguayan will prove to be an important part of Liverpool's future.

After being given a torrid time by Suarez, Steve Gohouri exacted his own revenge by poking home Charles N'Zogbia's cross. Wigan played fairly well without being threatening but Liverpool was actually denied victory by the woodwork.

Few observations that I can make after the Wigan game,
  1. Liverpool look capable of adapting to whatever formation that Kenny Dalglish intends to play.
  2. Luis Suarez is the real deal, his movement and intelligence were excellent. He could be the best No. 7 since Dalglish based on what I have seen thus far. The legendary No. 7 shirt has been worn by a number of pretenders (namely Robbie Keane, Harry Kewell and Nigel Clough).
  3. Dirk Kuyt's first team future at Liverpool will be numbered as soon as Andrew Carroll recovers fully from injury. The Reds Dutch warrior was immensely wasteful in possession against Wigan.
  4. Liverpool hardly troubled the Latics defence from corners, as Liverpool players lacked heading ability. Martin Skrtel should have scored the winner if he got his header on target. Andrew Carroll's phenomenal heading ability will add another dimension to the Liverpool attack.
  5. Steven Gerrard's passing ability (yes, even his occasional Hollywood passes) was badly missed against Wigan. His ability to put dangerous balls into the opponent's box could have been the difference that Liverpool needed to edge Wigan.
With the return of Gerrard and Agger, West Ham should be easy opponents to overcome. With the inside knowledge of ex-Hammer coach, Steve Clarke, Liverpool will be wary of the driving powers of Scott Parker and the finishing ability of  former Bundesliga winner, Ibrahim Demba Ba.

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