Having suffered from laryngitis for the majority of the week, I was in dire need of something to cheer me up this weekend. Seeing Everton beat Hull 5-1 yesterday went some way to achieving this, though you can’t really fill the hollow void of not playing on a Saturday afternoon, no matter how many times you watch the Wigan 5-0 Preston VHS. Still, a Sunday evening in front of the telly is better than having no voice at all for this evening’s game, after all, how else would I express my dissatisfaction with the general quality of Premier League refereeing? Please don’t answer that.
Flicking through the available channels I stumbled across Liverpool FC TV, and a rerun of the 2005/06 Wigan-Liverpool game at the JJB Stadium. Retro Wigan game reruns? On the telly? Wow, the world really has gone mad. It’s interesting to note that numerous fans constantly compare that season, our first in the Premier League, with the current campaign. I’m not going to get sucked into the finer points of that argument, but I will say the following: we weren’t very good. At least not compared to now.
Maybe it was the way the footage was edited (I could have sworn they cut out about ten Andreas Johansson chances) but I compare that side with our current team and yes, there were some good players in 06, but from the one half of football I saw, there was no real firepower up front: the Ellington/Roberts partnership had been split and the likes of Reto Ziegler were struggling to step into their boots.
Yet we managed to only lose 1-0, and were it not for a little more good fortune it could well have been a draw. These were the European Champions; Gerrard, Morientes, Fowler et al up against the might of the Henchoz-De Zeeuw back line… and they only just beat us. Imagine if they had only drawn against Little Wigan… the results would be unthinkable.
Cast your mind back to 2007/08 at the JJB: the result was similar, only with Wigan having more of the game than any previous occasion. This season-by-season improvement came to a head last campaign when Latics actually managed to grab a point in the same fixture… as I said, unthinkable. In Wigan, Liverpool’s potency is never quite the same, and even with a Latics squad in the midsts of a bad run of form, it’s not like they’ll be playing in front of 25,000 Scousers… or will they?
So those who say we have no chance could well be right, but think about this: for all their quality and European experience, there is always the chance they could muck up. You only have to think back as far as Wigan 3-1 Chelsea or even Man United’s scrappy win over Wolves this weekend for evidence that the ‘big four’ have the odd bad day, even when they’re supposedly in the form of their lives.
And let’s not completely rule out the possibility Wigan will turn up and give Liverpool a good run for their money. By Jove do we need to start turning in the results sooner rather than later – forget performances, we’ve had plenty of those already – just stick that ball in the back of the net and think about the long-term technical stuff later. We’ve got a league to stay in here.
In all seriousness, there may be an opportunity for a point this evening. However, I’d probably trade that in for a win over Bolton on Saturday – draws won’t keep us up, but wins certainly might.
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