Wigan welcomed local rivals Liverpool to the D.W. Stadium with Roberto Martinez naming an unchanged side hoping to build on last week’s excellent victory over Reading.
However an excellent team performance by Liverpool in contrast to a disjointed, ineffectual one from their hosts ensured that Wigan’s abject home record this season of only two home wins continued, with the spectre of relegation once again looming over Martinez’s men.
Wigan started brightly and could have been in front within sixty seconds when good work found Kone unmarked in the centre of the goal but his indecision as to whether to blast the ball or place it saw him hit the ball straight into the grateful arms of Reina in the Liverpool goal.
Within sixty seconds Liverpool were ahead, Coutinho not for the final time in the game left Emerson Boyce trailing in his wake and his cross into the centre was allowed to be met unchallenged by Downing and Liverpool were ahead.
Wigan’s heads visibly dropped and many passes were over hit or hit to their opponents as they tried to play their way back into the game with the frustration boiling over into several verbal altercations between players and one physical when McArthur and Boyce had to be spoken to by Mr Atkinson.
Liverpool looked a class apart, with Allen and Gerrard running rings around McCarthy and McArthur, driving the ball through midfield and looking to put Suarez through with the livewire Uruguayan sitting on the shoulder of Scharner and Caldwell looking to use his pace to beat the offside trap.
Coutinho was once again proved to be the provider as he put the ball through for Suarez who rounded Al Habsi with ease and Liverpool were two up.
Wigan tried to come back into the game with Scharner and Maloney the most effective players and Reina had to be at his best to save from a Boyce shot and a point blank Di Santo header.
Even with these chances to Wigan, the momentum was very much with Liverpool and it seemed only a matter of time before the Merseysiders scored again although when the goal came it was with a sizable amount of luck.
A Suarez free kick from just outside the penalty area hit the head of Maloney in the wall, taking a wicked deflection and although Al Habsi managed to get two hands to the ball, he couldn’t keep it out and it was in effect game over before half time with some Wigan fans taking the opportunity to leave so as to avoid any further humiliation from a rampant Liverpool.
Any hopes of a Wigan revival following Martinez’s half time team talk were quickly extinguished within four minutes as Johnson received the ball on the halfway line with four Wigan defenders within ten feet of him. The defender ghosted past all four with embarrassing ease and fed Suarez whose shot seemed to go underneath the advancing Al Habsi and Wigan were dead and buried.
Liverpool evidently felt that they had done enough and with Wigan replacing a striker in Di Santo with a midfielder in Espinoza and captain Caldwell with Antolin Alcaraz making a welcome return to the D.W. after a six month absence damage limitation was very mucht he order as the day.
Liverpool dropped off the pace content to pass the ball around in the Wigan fashion with the Latics reduced to chasing lost causes and when Wigan did get the ball the Liverpool midfield was quick to close them down nullifying any remaining threat.
Wigan trooped off at the end with heads down and whilst the more optimistic fans will point to the same number of shots on target for both sides, I am remained of the oft used Mark Twain quote of “Lies , damn lies and statistics” as Liverpool were far superior from one to eleven and Wigan will have to improve massively if they are to retain their Premier League status following this pitiful performance
Team Line up and player ratings
Al Habsi……5, at fault for two goals , not helped by the defence in front of him.
Scharner……7, MOM but had little competition, the image of the normally ebullient Austrian standing in the centre circle with his head in his hands at full time spoke volumes.
Figueroa…..6, Better than most
Beausejour……5.5, one god shot, one good cross, withdrawn.
McCarthy……5, nearest he got to Gerrard was sharing his hand before kick off.
McArthur……6, tried hard but out classed.
Maloney……6.5, Wigan’s most creative outlet….again
Di Santo…….5, ran around a lot.
Kone……5, marshalled with ease by the veteran Carragher
Espinoza….6, looked better than the other centre midfielders
Alcaraz…..6, composed and a welcome return.
McManaman…..6, gave his all.
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