Postgame: And so ends another frustrating game, where Liverpool lacks the scoring punch it takes to beat an in-form goalkeeper. The Reds must settle for a scoreless draw at Wigan.
Liverpool always seems to find an away trip to Wigan a difficult proposition. Having not won at DW Stadium since 2007, Dalglish didn’t rotate his team, but stuck with most of the same group that overran Aston Villa on Sunday.
His only changes were in the attack, and that’s where LFC needed a bit more sharpness. The trio of Suarez, Maxi and Kuyt were threatening, but couldn’t maintain the menace they presented in the first half. Downing and Enrique were there to provide width and serve them crosses, but that doesn’t play to their strengths.
Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi made nine saves during this busy outing. As impressive as that statistic may appear, only one or two were of the diving variety. The others were easy for the Oman international to turn away.
Charlie Adam should have given the Reds a lead, but hit spot-kick with power instead of bothering himself with placement. Al-Habsi was immense on the save and that gave his team the boost that carried it through the end of the game.
Pepe Reina was no innocent bystander either. He was constantly tested from distance by Wigan attackers. Liverpool may have the league’s best defensive record, but it spent much of the afternoon desperately tracking back after being caught too far up the field. Reina delivered a solid performance in a goal-mouth that looked like a mud pit by the end of the game.
Suarez didn’t have his best game, but was dangerous as always and won a penalty. He’s comfortable on the field, but faces real trouble off it.
That’s all for now and thanks for joining us. Let’s discuss this one on Twitter @NESNsoccer and Facebook. Be sure to keep an eye out for some news, fan reactions, analysis and opinion that is on the way on NESN.com. Get well soon, Eusebio.
Final: It’s over from the DW Stadium. Wigan held Liverpool scoreless and showed great character to turn the game around.
It was a largely frustrating game for Liverpool. The Reds could not seem to lift their play to match their hosts intensity in the second half.
94th minute, 0-0: It’s a free kick to Liverpool. Alcaraz fouled Carroll, who was trying to flick it to the onrushing Johnson.
Bellamy drives the set piece into the wall. LFC has one or tow more chances in this one.
91st minute, 0-0: With that cohesion that we saw in the first half gone missing, Bellamy cut inside and tried to win it by himself. His shot skips wide of Al-Habsi.
89th minute, 0-0: Johnson was caught in possession and Rodallega nearly made him pay. He sent it forward to Di Santo, and it was Reina’s last-second intervention that prevented the Argentine from having a good chance on goal.
87th minute, 0-0: Suarez comes off and Carroll takes his place. The big man doesn’t have much time to make his mark, but stranger things have happened.
Suarez was booed off by the home fans, but applauded by the travelling LFC support.
85th minute, 0-0: Moses beat Agger on the right and crossed to Rodallega at the back post. The striker’s header goes off Johnson and out for a corner.
Wigan nearly finds a winner off the corner. It finds an unmarked Moses at the far post, whose near-post volley eludes Skrtel and goes out of play.
82nd minute, 0-0: Figueroa gets forward and tests Reina from distance again.
Liverpool is not looking like it will end its winless run at the DW Stadium. The Lactics have shown a lot of determination and are more solid defensively than they were in the opening half.
77th minute, 0-0: Di Santo, Moses and Rodallega have added something new that the Reds are having difficulty. Their speed (Di Santo aside) and direct approach has the LFC back line slightly off-balance.
73rd minute, 0-0: Rodallega is coming on for Wigan, as Gomez departs. Watson comes on for Jones as well. Rodallega has scored for Wigan against LFC in the last two meetings between these teams.
72nd minute, 0-0: Here comes the calvary. Bellamy enters for Maxi, and Kuyt leaves with Shelvey taking his place.
69th minute, 0-0: Kuyt, Maxi and Suarez interchange so well in the final third, but can’t deliver the killer pass that leads to the shot.
Kuyt had another look at goal, but his sliding shot was off the mark.
67th minute, 0-0: Kuyt takes the ensuing free kick from Adam and volleys it high and wide. Adam fooled everyone by chipping the dead ball into the area. Kuyt hit the full volley into the stands, but he had time and space to pick his spot.
66th minute, 0-0: Caldwell continues to have trouble containing Suarez. He’s booked for a clumsy challenge from behind.
61st minute, 0-0: The ineffective Sammon departs and Di Santo enters. It’s the game’s first substitution.
57th minute, 0-0: Adam’s was the fourth (of five) penalty-kick miss for LFC this season.
57th minute, 0-0: Gomez finds space behind Adam and Henderson and shoots from distance. Reina saves it well.
50th minute, 0-0: And Al-Habsi makes a fantastic save. Adam hit it hard, but close to the middle of the goal and the in-form keeper saw it and parried it away. All he had to do was dive slightly to his left and make contact with the shot.
50th minute, 0-0: Suarez wins a penalty for the Reds. He tried a bicycle kick and Caldwell was standing behind him with his arms out wide. The shot hit him in the left arm and the referee gave the penalty without hesitation.
Credit to Henderson for playing the ball to Suarez, accurately and first-time.
49th minute, 0-0: Moses shoots on Reina’s goal (from distance) and the LFC keeper saves it, but bobbles it as well. The infamous Wigan field is starting to take shape. Clumps are appearing all over the field. We’re rescinding the compliment we paid their groundskeepers at the beginning of the game.
46th minute, 0-0: Adam wins a free kick slightly to Al-Habsi’s left. Suarez hits it hard, but the Wigan keeper deals with it well.
46th minute, 0-0: Suarez is all smiles as the second half kicks off. it could be that the field of play is his sanctuary from his troubles.
Halftime, 0-0: The first half ends scoreless. Liverpool was so good, so comfortable and so confident in the first 30 minutes, it was hard to foresee Wigan’s admirable fightback toward the end of the half.
The hosts are finding enough space to ask serious questions of the league’s best defense. Henderson and Adam are not sitting deep enough to add that extra layer of protection and thwart Wigan’s surges through the middle. Kuyt and Downing have been caught up-field on more than one occasion as well. Skrtel and Agger’s desperate defending and Reina’s steady goalkeeping kept the hosts from scoring as the half drew to a close.
Going forward, the Reds were composed and purposeful in their approach. It yielded a number of scoring opportunities early on. It was only when Wigan defended deep — with 10 men packed into the last 25 yards — that Liverpool had problems creating chances.
44th minute, 0-0: Salmon nearly takes it in alone on goal, but can’t gain control to unleash a shot. Johnson made the challenge that prevented it.
41st minute, 0-0: Maxi lost it in the midfield and Salmon gets some service toward goal. He tries to shoot, but Skrtel intervenes with a sliding tackle. The corner comes to nothing, but Wigan has settled into a comfortable niche in this contest.
It’s looking to catch the Reds going forward and use its speed to cause havoc for the LFC defense.
37th minute, 0-0: Moses dispossessed Johnson and sped toward the LFC goal. He beat outran Johnson, skipped past Agger (who slipped) and hit a hard shot at Reina that he punches away.
35th minute, 0-0: The pace has slowed down just a bit, as Liverpool slows its approach play. Wigan is happy to sit deep and wait for the counter.
30th minute, 0-0: It’s been an action-packed first half hour of this game.
Liverpool’s passing ability and confidence put them firmly in charge of the game, but Wigan has shown a little bit of fight in the last few minutes.
The Reds are going forward in numbers, Enrique and Johnson in particular, leaving Agger and Skrtel exposed to the counter.
28th minute, 0-0: Adam has a drive from distance saved by the busy, busy goalkeeper.
27th minute, 0-0: Diame eases into the area and tests Reina again. LFC is vulnerable to the counter-attack.
26th minute, 0-0: Al-Habsi has saves another close-range shot. Johnson took a pass from Maxi into the area, but the goalkeeper was quick off his line to cut down the angle.
25th minute, 0-0: Kuyt nearly scored his 50th league goal for LFC. Downing crossed low from the right and it reached the Dutchman who hit it hard, first time, but at Al-Habsi.
23rd minute, 0-0: Diame rifles his shot just wide of Reina’s near post. An innocent looking free kick was taken short and the Senegalese midfielder shot with his first touch. He, like Figueroa two minutes ago, had time and space to shoot.
There is space between the LFC midfield and defense that the hosts are trying to exploit.
21st minute, 0-0: Reina gets his first real test of the game. Figueroa pushes up on the left side, cuts in and drives his shot on goal. The Spanish stopper handles it well.
19th minute, 0-0: It’s nearly impossible to overstate how thoroughly Liverpool is in control of this game. Is Wigan conserving energy?
18th minute, 0-0: Another free kick goes to Liverpool. Adam delivers it into the six-yard box, but a defender heads it out for a corner.
16th minute, 0-0: Moses takes on Skrtel and goes down in the box. There’s no appeal for a penalty as he seemed to slip. Skrtel did make a bit of contact on the tackle, but probably not enough to bring the Wigan winger down.
15th minute, 0-0: Play has shifted back to what seems like its right place. Near the Wigan goal. Martinez may want to ditch the three-man back line. Liverpool is pressing and prodding but can’t seem to get a clear look at Al-Habsi’s goal.
11th minute, 0-0: Finally, some action in the Liverpool third. Salmon and Johnson jockey for a loose ball in the area, but the Scottish striker was judged to have fouled the England right back.
Ninth minute, 0-0: Liverpool continues its fluid play in the Wigan third. Suarez and Maxi combine in the area, and Maxi fins Henderson out wide. The young central midfielder hits his shot hard, but Al-Habsi punches it away.
Seventh minute, 0-0: Figueroa fouls Maxi with a tough challenge inside the arc. Adam hits the free kick from a dangerous spot, but drives it into a wall of legs. It was not well-taken.
Sixth minute, 0-0: It’s all Liverpool so far. Wigan hasn’t passed the midfield line withe the ball yet.
Third minute, 0-0: LFC must feel fortunate to visit the DW stadium before Rugby tears up the field in the spring. The Reds are moving the ball around well against Martinez’s new 3-4-3 system.
First minute, 0-0: Travelling LFC supporters are, as expected, quite vocal in their support of Suarez.
Pregame: Glance at the Liverpool team and you see Suarez in it. The embattled striker lines up against Wigan despite facing the prospect of a lengthy ban.
As a show of solidarity, LFC players and coaches are sporting T-shirts with the Uruguayan’s likeness on it.
The rest of the team is relatively settled. Kuyt and Maxi return to the starting 11 with Bellamy and Shelvey returning to the substitutes bench.
Creative midfielder Jordi Gomez is the danger man in the Wigan team. He’s been on a good run of form in recent weeks. Expect goalkeeper Al-Habsi to have a busy game as well. They always seem to against the 2011-12 Reds.
2:30 p.m.: Here are the lineups:
Pepe Reina (25), goalkeeper
Glen Johnson (2), right back
Daniel Agger (5), center back
Martin Skrtel (37), center back
Jose Enrique (3), left back
Charlie Adam (26), midfielder
Stuart Downing (19), midfielder
Jordan Henderson (14), midfielder
Dirk Kuyt (18), midfielder
Maxi (11), forward
Luis Suarez (7), forward
Doni (32), goalkeeper
Jamie Carragher (23), defender
Martin Kelly (34), defender
Sebastian Coates (16), defender
Jonjo Shelvey (33), midfielder
Craig Bellamy (39), forward
Andy Carroll (9), striker
Ali Al-Habsi (26), goalkeeper
Maynor Figueroa (31), left back
Antolin Alcaraz (3), right back
Gary Caldwell (5), center back
Ronnie Stam (23), midfielder
Mohamed Diame (21), midfielder
David Jones (19), midfielder
James McCarthy (4), midfielder
Jordi Gomez (14), forward
Victor Moses (11), forward
Connor Sammon (18), striker
Mike Pollitt (12), goalkeeper
Adrian Lopez (24), defender
James McArthur (16), midfielder
Ben Watson (8), midfielder
Franco Di Santo (9), striker
Albert Crusat (7), striker
Hugo Rodallega (20), striker
12:00 a.m. ET: The festive period is under way and Liverpool FC returns to action Wednesday with a trip to Wigan. The Reds have won consecutive games and look to continue their fine run of form at the DW Stadium.
Liverpool has found perennial stragglers Wigan to be a tricky opponent in recent years. It has not beaten the Lactics since 2009 and hasn’t won at the DW Stadium since 2007. Both of last season’s meetings finished 1-1.
After spending most of this season at or near the bottom of the English Premier League standings, Wigan has shown a bit of fight in recent weeks. Wins at Sunderland and West Brom combined with Saturday’s home draw against Chelsea suggest Roberto Martinez’s team may be on the rise. It sits in 19th place and would relish taking any result against a top team — home or away.
Striker Hugo Hugo Rodallega scored against the Reds in each of the last two meetings at the DW Stadium. He took a knock in the Chelsea game and is questionable for Wednesday.
Martinez was effusive in his praise for Liverpool, calling the 2011-12 LFC team the best he’s seen in years. Kenny Dalglish refused to get swept up in the admiration, instead focusing on managing his squad through the glut of games the next two weeks will bring. The Reds are in sixth place, but three points separate them from fourth-placed Chelsea.
There are no new injury or fitness concerns in the LFC camp, so Dalglish will be able to select from the squad that has earned positive results in recent weeks.
Join us at 3 p.m. for all the action from the DW Stadium.