Liverpool Live Blog: Defensive Approach, Lack of Pace Cost Reds Win as They Draw Wigan 1-1

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Liverpool Live Blog: Defensive Approach, Lack of Pace Cost Reds Win as They Draw Wigan 1-1

Analysis: Liverpool looked world class for the first seven minutes of the match and during a desperate stoppage time flurry. Otherwise, they were brutally outplayed by Wigan.

Liverpool began the match with an aggressive approach and were rewarded right off, as Gerrard delivered a magnificent ball from midfield directly down the middle of the pitch — picking out Torres in stride at the top of the box. Torres, of course, calmly placed the ball perfectly in the far post.

Then, Wigan took over. Charles N'Zogbia and Hugo Rodallega, with a little bit of help from Manchester United loan Tom Cleverly, Ronnie Stam and Victor Moses. put on a show. Their pace was too much for Liverpool on each flank, and Liverpool was lucky that so many of the times Wigan got behind the entire defense resulted in crosses to nobody. N'Zogbia repeatedly took the ball from the wing and made slashing runs through the middle. One such example was Wigan's disallowed first-half equalizer, another was the goal scored by Rodallega in the second half.

As for Liverpool, it's hard to assign much blame to Torres for his lack of involvement after scoring. He came back on defense far more than usual, but there was simply no service — and no attempt at service.

Kuyt, who may still not be totally on form, was as quiet as he's ever been in a Liverpool uniform. He's usually the Reds' hardest-working player. On Wednesday, he barely touched the ball. Maxi Rodriguez had a moment of brilliance where he picked out Steven Gerrard in space, setting up what could have been the game winner had the captain not kicked it off the crossbar with only the goalie to beat, but Maxi did little else. Lucas was active in defense, but perhaps too active. He earned a yellow early in the first half, and committed a couple of fouls thereafter. He was surely in danger of a second yellow.

Most of the blame, however, has to go to Hodgson's approach. Liverpool repeatedly let Wigan set up their shape in the offensive zone, not pressuring at Wigan's back nearly at all. They didn't particularly even challenge in midfield, and the Latics camped out in Liverpool's corners. If Wigan had been remotely dangerous on set pieces, the game likely wouldn't have resulted in a point at all for the Reds. Hodgson may have believed that he could sit on a 1-0 lead against a team in the relegation zone, but that clearly didn't prove to be true.

On defense, Carragher was clearly not able to keep up with N'Zogbia or Rodallega, and Konchesky was exposed somewhat as well. Kelly and Skrtel played relatively well, but all in all, Wigan looked fast, and Liverpool looked slow. The return of Glen Johnson and Daniel Agger should ultimately remedy such, however.

Ultimately, Liverpool sit in ninth after 12 matches, and that's about where they deserve to be. A win, however, would have put them in fifth in the table, and as important as the win over Chelsea was, the failure to take three points on Wednesday was nearly as impactful — as far as standings are concerned.

Liverpool head to a different challenge on Saturday, taking on a physical Stoke team at the roudy Britannia. Against a team with less pace, they may look much different, but they shouldn't take the Potters lightly. That clearly didn't work out on Wednesday.

Full Time, 1-1: The pressure has heated up as stoppage time begins. Wigan have a run forward, but then Gerrard finds Torres right at the far post, and he touches it across the goal, but nobody is there — very close to a goal. Liverpool build from the back. Gerrard back-heels for Konchesky, and Liverpool win a throw in the final third. Gerrard's cross on the ground is cleared by Wigan, but Liverpool win a corner off a longball thereafter. They are ending with a flurry. It falls to Shelvey after the inital header off by Diame, and Shelvey fires wide — goal kick. Final Whistle. 1-1.

90', 1-1: Liverpool have a chance to go forward themselves after the N'Zogbia shot. Gerrard crosses after a Konchesky pass, but nothing comes of it. N'Zogbia wins a foot race on the counter and shoots against the grain of his run, but his shot is well high. Shelvey has a little space above the area on the Liverpool run forward, but Thomas cuts out his shot attempt at the last moment. Di Santo has a minor chance in the other direction, but nothing comes of it. Diame is cramping. Three extra minutes.

87', 1-1: Liverpool have their own brief attack, but the defense swarms to Torres at the top of the area and he tries to flip it to a non-existent teammate in the area. Wigan go forward thereafter with N'Zogbia. A Wigan cross from close in skips low across the area, and the ball eventually ends up with Diame, who shoots well on target low to the far post, but Reina saves relatively easily. Wigan win a corner off a Cleverly run and cross through the area. It's one way traffic now. Rodallega, who has run like crazy, goes off for Di Santo. Gerrard heads the corner away, but it is collected by Wigan and given to N'Zogbia. He makes a slashing run from the right and shoots on target near post, but Reina saves.

84', 1-1: Wigan bring it up well with a longball to Rodallega that is laid off to Cleverly, but they end up sending the ball all the way back to their own half. Liverpool has ceased pressuring all that much — letting Wigan sit on the ball. Cleverly eventually crosses to Rodallega, who gets a header on net, but with no power, and Reina saves easily.

81', 1-1: Moses is fouled by Poulsen on a break, but Liverpool win the ball off the foul. Maxi Rodriguez gets the ball on the break and finds Gerrard free in a wide area. He is one on one against the keeper. He beats Al Hasbi, but he hits the crossbar from the right side of the area — so close. He gets free moments later in the same area, but Alcaraz recovers this time. Stam goes down on the pitch for treatment. Eccleston comes on for Maxi.

78', 1-1: Wigan continue their assault with Moses and Rodallega. Moses has had much more of the game than Gomez had. Liverpool is back in bunker mode.  Liverpool finally clears, but they have little time on the ball themselves before the Latics are right back forward.

75', 1-1: Liverpool win a corner, and though Gerrard's delivery is poor, it falls to Shelvey after being headed away, and his effort carroms around until an offside flag is called. Poulsen comes on for Kuyt — who nearly scored on that final corner of his game. Wigan go on a run of their own. N'Zogbia finds Stam behind the defense wide right, but his cross cannot find anybody. Wigan go right back forward. Moses finds Diame in the area, and the cross is sent very close to Rodallega. Skyrtel gets it away, but Wigan still have it on the attack.

72', 1-1: Liverpool have a short spell of possession, before Wigan go on multiple cut-out attacks. The ball goes back and forth at midfield with little endeavor. Poulsen to come on for Kuyt — an odd substitution. Kuyt has been quiet, but such is a very defensive substitution given the scoreline.

69', 1-1: Figueroa blasts a shot from well beyond the area, and his shot was decent but not nearly on target. Wigan, though, quickly get it right back. Rodallega is pushed off his run, but Liverpool's clear is back to Al Hasbi. He clears to Liverpool, who try to move up with Shelvey, but to no effect. Victor Moses comes on for Gomez for Wigan.

66', 1-1: Torres and  Kuyt build on the right, but Wigan regain possession and switch to their right, where they slowly build.  Cleverly feeds to Diame, who takes a harmless shot from distance — on target, but easy for Reina. Liverpool regroup, but Konchesky's pass for Torres is cut out. Wigan win a throw on the left in the Liverpool third.

63', 1-1: Wigan and Liverpool exchange possession harmlessly for a minute or so until Wigan begins to set up an attack. Liverpool are finally now pressuring the ball in Wigan's area and not letting them set up shop.  Wigan can't get the ball barely past midfield. The game has turned into somewhat of a stalemate.

58', 1-1: Shelvey finds Torres on a longball, and he tries on net, but Caldwell blocks out. The game has opened up considerably, but Wigan are continuing to dominate.

52', 1-1:Wigan build through N'Zogbia and Rodallega. N'Zogbia finds Stam who crosses. Reina parries it, and it falls to Rodallega, who nets easily. Goal! Rodallega. 1-1.

51', Liverpool 1-0: Diame and Stam combine well on the right and the cross in is cleared out only as far as Diame. The second cross by Wigan is collected by Reina. The second half doesn't seem much different from the first thus far. Liverpool show no interest in holding possession off the goal kick, but it falls to Maxi Rodriguez, who picks out Torres above the area. Eventually Alcaraz cuts out the danger and Wigan go forward, and Konchesky fouls Cleverly by the right corner after a series of turnovers in the Liverpool  defensive third. N'Zogbia's free kick is headed away, and Liverpool move forward with Shelvey.

48', Liverpool 1-0: Shelvey comes on for Meireles, and we're off. The teams start the half tentatively as expected until longball for Rodallega connects in a dangerous areabut it is called off for a push by Rodallega on Skrtel.

Half Analysis: Liverpool's initial burst of energy and goal through an amazing link-up of Gerrard and Torres suggested that the game would be a romp for the Reds, but they pretty much stopped playing at that point.

Liverpool have shown no offensive aspiration for the past 35 minutes — seemingly content to hold a 1-0 lead for 80 minutes of action.

Torres has been coming back to play defense just to have a remote look at the ball. Kuyt has perhaps been even less visible than Torres.

Lucas picked up an early yellow card and has committed a couple of fouls since then. He should perhaps take the second 45 off, given the circumstances. If not, he'll have to be very careful.

For Wigan, N'Zogbia, Rodallega, Cleverly, Gomez and Stam have created danger — particularly N'Zogbia and Rodallega, who were a close offside from an equalizer. They have used both sides and the center well. Wigan's set pieces, however, have been nearly useless.

In the second half, Liverpool would be very well served to pretend that the score is 0-0. Sitting on defense seems to be a proposition that won't hold up for another 45.

Half, Liverpool 1-0: Liverpool have a chance to counter. Maxi Rodriguez lays to Gerrard, but his cross cannot find anybody. Liverpool maintain possession in the zone, but eventually, a Kuyt offside gives it back to Wigan, who themselves cede it right back to Liverpool to build from the back. Wigan builds again, and the field nearly opens up for Rodallega, but Konchesky covers. N'Zogbia is double-teamed in the corner, and Wigan eventually win a corner. A whistle goes on the corner, and little happens thereafter. Half.

43', Liverpool 1-0: Cleverly and Stam go up the right with the ball, and Stam sends a cross to the center of the area to Rodallega. He is not quite able to get on the end of it — by inches, and the ball trickles just past the far post — a dangerous moment for Liverpool.  Wigan again start up again after the clearance.

40', Liverpool 1-0: Liverpool finally have a good chance as Kelly gets the ball up the right and makes a brilliant cross low through the area — but nobody is there. Wigan rebuild after another Lucas foul at midfield. Gomez runs up the center, but Torres (back on defense) tackles it away. After an exchange of possession, Rodallega gets another chance, and his shot strikes Carragher in the hand, but nothing is called. Liverpool clear. They eventually win a free kick in their half to build from the back with, but the ball eventually goes to Al Habsi.

37', Liverpool 1-0: Wigan win a corner after another N'Zogbia run, but it comes to nothing — though they keep possession with a throw. Eventually, they play it all the way back to their side and regroup. Liverpool have barely touched the ball for 20 minutes. Wigan gives it to them, but Meireles is quickly cut out by Alcaraz. He longballs for Rodallega, but cannot find him. Rodallega and Carragher have words over the event.

34', Liverpool 1-0: Wigan have surely dominated since going down — with the exception of the one Gerrard chance. They continue their assault up the flanks, but lose out to Kuyt for a counter. He plays it to Torres who waits for Gerrard at the top of the area, and the team eventually holds to set up attack. The ball, however, is ultimately exchanged in midfield, until it falls to N'Zogbia.

N'Zogbia makes a great run after the interception and finds Rodallega, who passes back to him. N'Zogbia finishes on an empty net, but Rodallega was offside. Liverpool are saved. Still, Wigan look dangerous.

31', Liverpool 1-0: N'Zogbia makes a dangerous run through the area from the right, but he cannot get a shot off. Wigan win a corner, and Gomez kicks it too far, but Caldwell heads it on to goal — Reina saves. Liverpool builds, but Wigan wins possession and builds left with Figueroa. They switch to the left and eventually lose it at midfield for a throw without ever being pressured. Liverpool, though, are on the back foot.

Liverpool 's throw results in a Wigan clearance, followed by a Liverpool longball which Wigan builds left from. N'Zogbia's low cross from the left corner was dangerous but came to no end. Wigan, though, got possession right back. N'Zogbia makes another run and gets it to Rodallega at the top of the box, but can do nothing with it. Liverpool clear.

27', Liverpool 1-0: Gerrard commits a foul at midfield and Wigan go forward through Rodallega. He gives it to N'Zogbia who lays it off for Stam, who crosses well, but with no target in the area. N'Zogbia again takes it forward right, and wins a throw near the corner.  Liverpool cut it out, but Wigan pressure. Kuyt makes a dangerous run going forward, but the goalie gets there first.

23', Liverpool 1-0: Liverpool win a corner, taken by Meireles. Skrtel gets a volley on the end of it, but his effort is well off. Wigan build, switching from left to right, but they find few openings. After an exchange of possession, Lucas fouls N'Zogbia in the right of the final third — dangerous for Lucas, who is on a card. They don't attempt a cross or shot on the kick, but eventually cede possession for a goal kick.

19', Liverpool 1-0: Torres makes a run with the ball and waits for support. He finds Gerrard who flips it up to Kuyt in the center of the area. Kuyt finds Gerrard in space, but he cannot keep his effort down — great attack though. Wigan builds up the left through Figueroa, and the ball in bounces around dangerously, but Liverpool clears. Wigan again go up left, but the Cleverly cross is again cut out. Torres accidentally fouls Alcaraz. Rodallega makes a dangerous run again, but it is cut out at the last minute. Wigan are looking more dangerous. Liverpool rebuild.

16', Liverpool 1-0: Rodallega makes a dangerous run up the right, which seems to clearly be Wigan's attacking side of choice. Eventually, they are cut out and Torres is fouled on the counter at midfield. Shortly thereafter, Lucas fouls Diame at midfield and is given a yellow. Wigan again builds right with Nzogbia, but switch to Cleverly on the left. He crosses it in, but Reina collects. Liverpool regroup, but to little avail. Wigan build from their own back.

12', Liverpool 1-0: Liverpool is really firing on all cylinders now, building the attack up again artfully. Eventually, Lucas cannot find Meireles, but everybody was involved and the whole field was used. Wigan build from the back, but get just two touches in before losing it.

8', Liverpool 1-0: Gerrard sends a low ball from midfield to Torres, making a run right down the center of the field. Torres beats the defender and strikes it far post, low. GOAL! Torres. 1-0 Liverpool.

7', 0-0: Wigan holds possession in their own half on the right — building slowly. Eventually, they switch it to their left and lose possession to a Liverpool throw., but regain it thereafter and switch back to their right. A longball for Rodallega is attempted and missed. Liverpool thereafter build up thereafter on the left, but the teams end up exchanging possession in midfield.

3', 0-0: Liverpool's first buildup is well crafted, switching from right to left. Maxi Rodriguez lays a ball above the box for Lucas, and he strikes on target — saved for a corner. Gerrard's corner is headed for a throw by Rodallega. Wigan clear thereafter, and nearly counter.

2:43 p.m.: Almost ready for kickoff.

2:30 p.m.: Liverpool's lineup is totally unchanged from Sunday's victorious squad.

Glen Johnson remains out — despite speculation that he would be available.

Complete sqads are as follows:

Liverpool

Pepe Reina (25), goalkeeper
Martin Skrtel (37), center-left defender
Jamie Carragher (23), center-right defender
Paul Konchesky (3), left back
Martin Kelly (34), right back
Lucas (21), center-left midfielder
Steven Gerrard (8), center-right midfielder
Maxi Rodríguez (17), left wing
Raul Meireles (4), right wing
Dirk Kuyt (18), forward
Fernando Torres (9), forward

Substitutes

Christian Poulsen (28)
David Ngog (24)
David Amoo (46)
Martin Hansen (41)
Jonjo Shelvey (33)
Jay Spearing (26)
Milan Jovanovic (14)

Wigan Athletic

Ali Al Habsi (26), goalkeeper
Antolín Alcaraz (3), center-left defender
Gary Caldwell (5), center-right defender
Maynor Figueroa (31), left back
Ronnie Stam (23), right back
Mohamed Diame  (21), center-left midfielder
Tom Cleverley (15), center-right midfielder
Hendry Thomas (6), central midfielder
Jordi Gómez (14), left wing
Charles N'Zogbia (10), right wing
Hugo Rodallega (20), forward

Substitutes

Steven Caldwell (13)
Chris Kirkland (1)
James McArthur (16)
Victor Moses (11)
Franco Di Santo (7)
Ben Watson (8)
Mauro Boselli (9)

10 a.m.: It's well known that Roberto Martinez's Wigan side generally lose by huge margins to the big clubs — or come away with shocking victories. Liverpool must make sure that they fall into the first category on Wednesday as they take on the club with the worst goal differential in the Premier League.

Glen Johnson is set to return to the lineup — something that he was supposed to do on Sunday against Chelsea — but Sotirios Krygiakos and Joe Cole will again be absent. Still, even Martinez acknowledged that his Latics couldn't be facing hot Liverpool at a worse time, according to ESPN.

"It is probably the worst moment to play them,'' Martinez said. "Looking at the Liverpool side now, they play with huge energy and confidence – they were a joy to watch against Chelsea and you can start to see Roy Hodgson's hand on that side."

Wigan, who will be without Steven Gohouri in defense, still do have truly pacy danger men in Charles N'Zogbia and Hugo Rodallega — both of whom have three goals this season.

They have, however, lost their last two matches and are winless in their past four.

Wigan and Liverpool split the season series 1-1 in 2009-10, with each side winning their home match.

The Reds face Stoke and West Ham after their trip to the DW. If they were to be able to win all nine points from those matches, they would likely find themselves very close to the top four in the table.

Lineups will be posted prior to kickoff, which will be at 2:45 ET.

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