Saturday, 24 March 2012

Liverpool Vs Wigan 1-2

LIVERPOOL’S league form plummeted to a new low this afternoon as relegation threatened Wigan Athletic won the points at Anfield.

Goals in either half from Shaun Maloney and Gary Caldwell handed the Lattics a first ever Premier League win on this side of Stanley Park and boosted their chances of survival.

Luis Suarez had equalised early in the second half but his goal was a rare moment of cheer for Reds supporters who witnessed the most disappointing game at home this season.

Manager Kenny Dalglish was adamant that Liverpool’s season would not peter out but for large spells his call to arms fell on deaf ears as they turned in an awful performance.

Liverpool’s record in the league since the turn of the year has scuppered any chance of them qualifying for the Champions League and defeat today was their fifth in six Premier League matches.

To make matters worse for Reds fans, Everton – so soundly beaten in the 217thMerseyside derby - have reduced the gap between the clubs to just two points with their win at Swansea.

Rightly there was anger and frustration at the full-time whistle as Liverpool turned in yet another sub-par display but the faithful were buoyed by the senior debut of Raheem Sterling.

The speedy winger came on with five minutes left and his introduction makes him the third youngest player to have represented the Liverpool first team.

But make no mistake, Sterling’s debut in no way softened the blow of this defeat and the boos which rang out at the end were wholly justified.

With a queue forming at the Melwood treatment table, enforced changes for the game but Liverpool had ample to see off a struggling Wigan side.

Jordan Henderson earned a recall to the starting line to replace Charlie Adam, who sustained a serious knee injury at Queens Park Ranger on Wednesday night, but his afternoon lasted just 45 minutes as he substituted for Andy Carroll at half-time.

John Flanagan,meanwhile, won a first senior start since the Carling Cup tie with Exeter City in August and served up a committed performance.

Indeed Flanagan, in for the injured Martin Kelly, helped Liverpool to a positive start to the game as they applied early pressure.

However, for all their good intentions quality was lacking.

Wigan were allowed to settle and Martin Skrtel had to defend smartly to block Victor Moses’ effort as he found a worrying amount of space in the Liverpool area.

The accuracy of the Reds’ passing was equally as alarming though a rare moment of saw Stewart Downing exchange passes with Suarez before volleying marginally wide.

Such link-up play was an exception to the rule and the mood worsened significantly just a minute later.

Moses latched onto Gary Caldwell’s flick back into the area and fell under the challenge of Skrtel.

Referee Lee Mason pointed to the spot and following a lengthy delay as Moses received treatment, Shaun Maloney fired low and hard beyond Pepe Reina, who was making his 250thleague appearance for Liverpool.

Despite going a goal behind, Liverpool’s standards remained low though Suarez fired from outside the area to bring the best out of a fully stretched Ali Al Habsi.

Suarez, easily the Reds’ best player of the first half, fed Steven Gerrard but again the Wigan goalkeeper was equal to it.

Half-time provided Liverpool fans with a welcome respite from the drudgery of the opening 45 minutes and gave manager Kenny Dalglish the chance to inspire his players.LIVERPOOL (4-2-3-1) Reina, Flanagan, Carragher, Skrtel, Enrique, Spearing, Gerrard, Kuyt (Sterling 85), Henderson (Carroll 46), Downing (Shelvey 73), Suarez. Not used: Doni, Aurelio, Coates, Eccleston.

Goals: Suarez (47)

Cautions: Suarez

WIGAN (4-3-3) Al Habsi, Boyce, Alcaraz,Caldwell, Figueroa, McCarthy, McArthur, Beausejour (Watson 63), Moses (Crusat 42), Di Santo (Sammon 81), Maloney. Not used: Kirkland, Thomas, Watson, Gomez, Stam.

Goals: Maloney (30 pen)

Cautions: Di Santo, Figueroa

Referee: Lee Mason

Attendance: 44, 431

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