Liverpool 1-1 Wigan: Sunday Mirror match report
Published 22:00 12/02/11 By Derick Allsop
There is a limit to King Kenny’s powers after all. And perhaps now his subjects will temper their expectations.
Four consecutive wins, climaxed by a gloriously improbably success at Chelsea, had Liverpool’s fans believing everything Kenny Dalglish touched would turn to gold.
They were merely encouraged in their delusion when Raul Meireles added to his collection of exquisite goals to give Liverpool the lead.
But Roberto Martinez’s Wigan remained defiantly purposeful and were rewarded when the long leg of right-back Steve Gohouri salvaged a point.
That goal, significantly, came as Liverpool attempted to reorganise following the withdrawal of the injured Meireles with a stomach bug.
His control, vision and lethal finishing have made him a vital player here, especially in the absence of injured captain Steven Gerrard.
The Portuguese contends he prefers making to scoring goals, but five from six matches suggests he harbours a secret passion.
Luis Suarez, given a full 90 minutes in Liverpool red, endeavoured to leave his impression on the match and instead left it on the post and crossbar.
Dalglish must be counting down to the day when he can partner the excitingly resourceful Suarez with his other transfer deadline signing, Andy Carroll.
The caretaker manager had no complaints with the result, even if he was convinced Wigan’s equaliser should not have been allowed because Antolin Alcaraz appeared to be offside as he got the slightest of glances on to Gohouri.
Dalglish said: “We started well enough and scored a good goal. But you could tell a lot of them had played internationals on the Wednesday. That bit of sharpness was missing.
“Raul was sick at half-time and we had to take him off early in the second half. It might have been something to do with being away and playing for his country in midweek.
“It was a blow to lose him because he’s an excellent player and he has a goalscoring threat.”
Dalglish was equally gratified by the contribution of Suarez. “It’s not difficult to warm to him. He’s very energetic, skillful and likes to score goals. He was unlucky to hit the post and bar.”
Martinez, too, acknowledged the contribution of Suarez, although it was a bitter-sweet appreciation.
“He is a very clever player and you have seen him getting free-kicks for Uruguay the way he did today. You have to be very careful playing against him.
“But we defended very well in the last 10 minutes, when Liverpool threw everything at us. The players deserve huge credit for what they did here.
“We had a number of very young players in our team, two of them only 20. But we showed our togetherness and a lot of composure. I enjoyed watching Wigan today.
“If there was a suggestion of offside with our goal then I feel we deserved that bit of luck. We have not had much luck this season and I believe our performance deserved at least a point.”
Wigan, bolstered by their 4-3 victory against Blackburn the previous week, were as good as their positive word going into this match and Charles N’Zogbia might have made more of an early opportunity.
Liverpool’s only genuine response in the first quarter of the contest was a 20-yard shot from Dirk Kuyt that had Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi fumbling to gather.
Al Habsi could only wish for a hand on Meireles’ volley, returned with devastating interest from Gohouri’s attempted clearance.
It could have been worse for Wigan seven minutes later. Suarez’s clever drop of the shoulder created the space to shoot and he watched in frustration as the ball kissed the far post.
Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina was relieved Hugo Rodallega couldn’t capitalise on a chance early in the second half.
Meireles’ premature departure and the arrival of David Ngog required a shuffle that drew some of the fluency and conviction from Liverpool’s football.
That was all the incentive Wigan needed and they duly drew level. Rodallega again threatened before N’Zogbia’s cross from the right eventually reached Gohouri at the far post and his outstretched leg applied the crucial touch to equalise.
Liverpool, urged by the screaming gallery to push forward in numbers, did precisely that. Suarez was unfortunate again, thumping the bar with a free-kick, and Glen Johnson’s shot was deflected over.
Anxiety strangled much of Liverpool’s late play, reflected in Fabio Aurelio’s blast over the bar. Martin Skrtel hurled himself at a corner, with the same result.
It was Liverpool’s last throw and Wigan had the point they desperately sought and undeniably deserved.