After a late winner over Bolton, a storming comeback against Napoli and Sunday’s fantastic 2-0 victory over reigning Premier League champions Chelsea, spirits were high going in to this match, but there was always a sense that the real test was about to begin.
Roy Hodgson named an unchanged starting XI from the weekend on a cold Wednesday night against the Latics in what looked like a firm signal of intent. And the match started in similar fashion, with the reds attacking Wigan’s goal from the outset. Fortunately, our run of good luck seemed to be continuing with a 7th minute goal from Fernando Torres. A fantastic ball through from Steven Gerrard splitting the Wigan defence was picked up by Torres who dispatched it clinically.
However, it was only going downhill from there. Wigan gradually started feeling their way in to the game. As their presence became more and more evident, Liverpool’s began to fade out. The poor passing, lack of urgency and deep positioning started to make a return as we looked to be reverting back to the ‘soak up pressure and hope’ style that the vast majority of Liverpool fans have started to despise.
Sitting back on a 1-0 lead away from home is not what Liverpool Football Club is about; especially after the recent mini-revival that we have experienced. As good as the results of the past week were, a return to this approach feels like it has undone all of the hard work the lads have put in.
As the first half began to draw to a close, Wigan’s role in the match looked increasingly prominent as we continued to rely on the hard work of our defence, bolstered by another fantastic performance from Kelly. Half time was a blessing, however the second half continued in much the same vein with Wigan seemingly going for the kill. Raul Miereles, who was a shadow of the player we witnessed on Sunday, was replaced with Shelvey who failed to reproduce the performances that impressed us all so much against Napoli and Chelsea.
It was inevitable that Wigan were going to grab an equaliser, and it came from Rodellega who capitalised on our poor passing and distinct lack of urgency. Though rather than sitting happily with their equaliser, Wigan continued to press our goal with only some resolute defending and dominant goalkeeping from Pepe Reina keeping us in the game.
15 minutes from time, with the score still level, bemusement overcame the majority of the watching Liverpool fans as Christian Poulsen was introduced in Dirk Kuyt’s place. The deep laying approach that we seem to have reverted back to is frustrating many Liverpool fans, and bringing an attacker off for a defensive midfielder while we are still chasing a potential winner is not going to do anything to appease the fans who simply cannot understand Hodgson’s approach.
The indifferent Liverpool Football Club continued to be the theme of the evening as both sides failed to take their chances in the closing minutes of the match, with Nzogbia looking dangerous and Gerrard hitting the bar after some neat work from Maxi Rodriguez, who was soon replaced with Nathan Eccleston.
As the match came to a close, only Pepe Reina kept us in the position to go away with a point as he pulled out a vital save. A missed chance from Torres and a last minute volley that went wide of the post from Shelvey just weren’t enough to see the reds come away with all 3 points.
Reina, Kelly, Konchesky, Skrtel, Carragher, Lucas, Meireles, Gerrard, Maxi, Torres, Kuyt.
Subs: Hansen, Jovanovic, Ngog, Spearing, Poulsen, Shelvey, Eccleston.