Another match, another win, three more points. That simple, isn’t it?
Well maybe not quite…
Again we found ourselves in a hole from an absolutely shocking piece of work from Daniel Agger at the back. Here I just sang his praises not so long ago, and he’s gifting the opposition goals before attempting to blame Pepe for the miscue. Now it’s a given that it is perhaps boneheaded play of the season so far, but I think this all stems back to the original issue with Agger this season, which is the fact that he was rather unjustly frozen out of the starting XI. He is trying to do too much, when he needs to be confident in the fact that we are all aware of his class.
Fast-forward a bit and Dirk Kuyt, goal-scorer, came to a surprising rescue with another dribbler that somehow managed to find its way into the back of the net. His knack for producing these moments though has gotten to be beyond coincidence for me, and until further notice I am going to lay of Mr. Kuyt. MOTM for me. At this point with the score levelled at 1-1 I thought we were surely on our way to three points as we were fairly bossing the match, keeping possession and looking good on the offensive side of things. Sadly it’s our back line that was having the difficulties for a change. Hopefully this is something we can clear up right quick, as the last thing we need are woes coming from behind.
Unfortunately, our inability to close down properly led to a 2nd goal from Egyptian striker Amr Zaki put his 2nd past Reina to restore Wigan’s one goal advantage. I was simply left stunned for lack of a better word. I could hardly imagine a title push as we were pissing around against the likes of Wigan. I still had faith we could push on for a result, but my patience was being sorely tried as was Rafa’s you can be quite sure. In all fairness to Wigan and the media who are saying what a performance it was by them, I don’t think they can feel slighted in the least considering they wouldn’t have scored once were it not for our sheer ineptitude.
Following Zaki’s goal, Wigan made their biggest mistake; they started dropping off and allowing Liverpool even more time on the ball. Gerrard and Alonso who had been quiet started pressing forward and getting the ball out to the wide areas. Both Riera and Pennant looked lively today, putting several quality crosses into the box, which really could have led to us scoring sooner than we had done.
With the pressure mounting, a foul left us with an indirect kick on the edge of the box. Wigan spent the better part of 3 minutes being situated by Alan Wiley, before Valencia infringed anyway. xabi faked rolling it to Gerrard, leading to Valencia’s being issued a yellow card. This was only fair as Wiley did everything but hold them back physically himself. It was a blatant disregard of the rules, and one which I would like to see more heavily enforced across football. So fair play to the referee on that one. Stevie put the ball just wide of the far post, and the attack continued. Eventually Rafa brought on Benayoun and El Zhar to replace Arbeloa and Dossena, leaving us with a back two and attackers for the most part.
During this period of time Valencia found himself recklessly challending Xabi Alonso with studs showing and received a second booking, neither of which he could have any complaint about in my book. Steve Bruce cursed and jumped about a bit, but look to the replays and there is no argument. Perhaps if had any control of himself Valencia wouldn’t have felt the need to make such a lunge deep in the Liverpool half. The lad knew he was on a yellow already, and you’d expect better of him.
Reduced to ten men, Wigan had nothing left but to park the bus and hope for the best. Thankfully for us a beautifully placed right-footed shot from Riera (yes someone scoring with their off foot, it’s a miracle) meant the game was back on as Liverpool equalized in the 80th minute. The finish was set up beautifully by a lovely ball from El Zhar, who was impressive and the skpper with a cheeky dummy to let it roll onto the charging Spaniard.
The last ten minutes were more of the same really for the boys in Red. Push up, apply pressure and look for weaknesses in the defense. It only took five of those before Dirk Kuyt stepped up again with a beautiful falling volley for a 3-2 advantage. It was clearly over for Wigan at that point, as their effort from that point showed.
This match is one that you’ll see most billing as a glorious comeback, or perhaps points stolen unjustly from a deserving Wigan side. Really though, both of those views are incorrect. I see this match as nothing more than a 3-0 victory to the home side, with a few absolutely horrific blunders tossed in. Now I realize that goals are goals and performances don’t get you points, but if you objectively look at the two sides on the day I don’t think anyone can tell you with a straight face that Wigan deserved anything out of the match.
Hopefully we can get our wounded lads going again and continue on successfully through the Calderon this week, as the Bridge looms next weekend with sole top of the table on the line against Chelski.
Come On You Reds!