This isn’t going to be a full-blown match report (let’s face it, how often do I actually post one of those?) because the hustle and bustle of midweek life combined with the rapidly dwindling count of shopping days until Christmas has somewhat curtailed my usual period of post-match reflection. Nevertheless, lunch hour is here to rescue us all!
Prior to yesterday’s game, our friends from down Mersey way were digging themselves a big hole, and all talk was (and still is) of Benitez – should he stay or should he go? I haven’t an inkling either way: since I ain’t a Liverpool supporter I don’t feel at all qualified to give an opinion on the matter. Besides, plenty of other people have been doing that for me.
Whatever, going into last night’s game Liverpool would have accepted nothing more than three points. Yup, had they drawn they probably would have thrown their point back in the FA’s face and said ‘chew on that, sucker’. But the points were far from secure: recent results haven’t exactly been to fans’ liking, and you could see why in periods yesterday.
At times, the lack of that finishing touch was like watching Wigan, who didn’t have too bad a night themselves. Former Liverpool man Chris Kirkland turned out another sweet and sour performance, costing Latics the first goal and looking a little bit rickety in the first half, but redeeming himself with a couple of wonderful saves to keep his side in the game. So I suppose we can let him off – after all, he must still be dazed from the event which must not be named ever again.
Sorry to bring up that game once again, but it seems we’re destined never to forget it. Even when I’m old and wrinkly (in a couple of months’ time, if Latics’ season continues in the same vein) I fear I still won’t have heard the last of it.
And yes, one or two remnants of that game still reflected in Wigan’s performance. A period of Liverpool dominance led to their first goal, a deserved lead from the head of N’gog. He was relatively ineffective from that point onwards, but I guess he’d done the job he’d been put there to do. But Latics were undeterred, and continued to push forward – Paul Scharner headed a glorious opportunity into the waiting arms of Reina int’ Liverpool net. One or two more promising moves followed along with a couple of fortuitous reffing decisions, and Latics could well have taken a shock 1-1 scoreline into the half time break.
This back-and-forth play continued for much of the second period until about the seventieth minute, when Jason Scotland missed a gilt-edged opportunity to bag his first of the season. The question on everybody’s lips is simply ‘what has this guy done to cheese God off so badly?’ A goal there and then would have set up a cracking finish to the game, but as it transpired, Liverpool were soon two ahead thanks to a slightly sloppy piece of defending. Nothing new there then.
It was all but game over. Zoggers capped a lukewarm evening (well, he was marked by two men all night) with a pleasant goal from the edge of the penalty area, but that was in stoppage time and with only a couple of minutes to play there really was not enough time to complete the comeback. Typical stuff – Wigan always get a second wind in the last few minutes and it has led to the odd goal or two in recent times. Once again, though, it was nearly but not quite.
Latics always seem to grab an insignificant goal or two in a losing effort. This is more like the kind of thing I was expecting when Bob Martinez took over – more often than not we can score against anyone, it’s just a matter of keeping a clean sheet or at least getting one more than the other team. Things are at least going in the right direction – in fact I’m finding it hard to be negative about last night’s result.
In truth, I never expected anything from the match and the upcoming home games against Bolton and Blackburn are the important ones. Win those, and we can go into the match against Man United with some confidence. We’ll probably still lose, but it’s nice to know that you have that cushion from the bottom three anyway.
I urge you to get down there this Monday night and Boxing Day, and don’t forget to bring your silly costume!