After The Match 


Wigan-Liverpool 1-0 (1-0)              8.3.10                            PL
Goals: Rodallega (35)
Team: Reina, Mascherano, Carragher, Kyrgiakos, Insua, Lucas, Gerrard, Rodriguez, Kuyt, Benayoun, Torres
Subs: Johnson (Lucas 55), Aquilani (Benayoun 69), Babel (Kuyt 82)
Not used: Cavalieri, Agger, Ngog, Riera
Yellow: Insua (22), Lucas (29), Kyrgiakos 33), Torres (79),
Gerrard (82)                                           Bramble (40)
Red: None
Referee: Andre Marriner
Attendance: 17,427
Shots on target: 4-0
Shots off target: 8-8
Blocked shots: 1-5
Fouls conceded: 15-14
Corners: 4-7
Offsides: 0-1
Possession: 37-63
Yellow: 1-5

HEADLINES "In the first-
half we
didn't do anything..."
Rafael Benitez
1003: Liverpool FC players need to stop sulking
1003: Champions League chase? It looked more like
          a relegation fight for Liverpool at Wigan

0903: Roberto not shedding tears for Rafa
0903: Babel: Down but not out
0903: Another inept display
          just raises more questions

0803: Benitez questions attitude
0803: Hugo hits Reds' top-four challenge  

Liverpool FC players
need to stop sulking

Comment by Ian Rush - Liverpool Echo

Liverpool managed a feat on Monday that many would have thought impossible – they lost twice on the same night. If it was not bad enough seeing Wigan Athletic take three precious points, the defeat at the DW Stadium effectively saw us relinquish pole position in the race for the Champions League; things, from this moment, are going to be exceptionally hard.

The problem with which Liverpool are faced now is the fact Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa all have games in hand and all know they can lose on the run-in without it unduly affecting their position in the table.

It’s difficult to explain why things fell apart at Wigan. I honestly expected Liverpool to go there full of confidence, win and set themselves up to get a couple more victories over Lille and Portsmouth.

We couldn’t have wished for a bigger incentive, either, than knowing those three points would have lifted us back into the top four but, as things stand, the prospects of returning to the Champions League are dwindling quite dramatically.

How, then, does Rafa Benitez turn the tide? He has got to do everything in his power to lift the squad as if they are starting to feel sorry for themselves, they really won’t finish fourth – teams that sulk head in only one direction.

I still believe there is sufficient talent at Anfield to get us out of this tight spot and maybe we need to get into the mindset where teams worry about us, rather than us worrying about keeping things tight.

Should we start showing a bit more adventure going forward and the players have just got to roll their sleeves up, work hard and believe they can do it.

There is no point rounding on the manager or the squad now; I’ve said all along that the time for inquests and analysis should be once the final ball of the campaign has been kicked. Doing it now only gets in the way.

Finishing fourth is going to be hard enough without everyone turning on one another and it’s not the Liverpool way to start bickering.

After all, there are still 27 points to play for – but if there is a sense the players believe we will struggle to get every single one, we might not even finish in the top six all.

Champions League chase?
It looked more like
a relegation fight for Liverpool at Wigan

Comment by Mark Lawrenson - Liverpool Daily Post

Never mind going for the Champions League – Liverpool played like a team trying to avoid getting relegated at Wigan the other night.

And this negative mindset where you try to make yourself tough to beat before you try to go out and win a game finally came crashing down at the DW Stadium.

For starters, that policy means that you have to make sure you get everything spot on, stay disciplined and concentrate.

Basically, there’s very little room for switching off and making errors – and the one from Dirk Kuyt that led to Hugo Rodallega’s winning goal was a real howler.

Which wouldn’t have been a problem if this current Liverpool team knew how to respond – but they are just bereft of ideas.

Wigan goalkeeper Chris Kirkland didn’t have to make a save of any sort of quality. He was put under a worrying lack of pressure.

And the number of times Liverpool passed it back rather than forward was frightening. That just immediately cuts down your options when you get the ball.

When you play a team that really is threatened with relegation, how can you not be committing players to get beyond their midfielders. What’s the point in even turning up?

It was telling that Rafael Benitez, for once, criticised his players’ attitude and approach to the game. In truth, there was very little else he could do given the quality of that performance.

And he could hardly blame the pitch, however bad it was – it was newly laid so it was the same for both teams.

But I think that was also an attempt to deflect a bit of the attention away from himself. He was one of many people involved at Anfield who made mistakes on Monday night.

The set-up of the team was worrying from the outset with Steven Gerrard far too deep. You never felt that Liverpool were going to exert any pressure and score. Alarmingly, you could never have said the same about Wigan – they could have won easier.

No wonder Gerrard looks visibly frustrated with the whole situation. When that’s clear to see during a game, you know you’ve got problems.

So yet again, it’s another week of asking, ‘where do Liverpool go from here?’

Well for starters, it’s time to ditch this nonsense about holding on to what you have and being hard to beat. It’s time to commit players now and go for victories, there’s no excuse.

The lateness of the reaction at Wigan was extremely disappointing but the reaction to the defeat has to be instant at Lille on Thursday, similarly at home to Portsmouth on Monday.

But I honestly don’t think you can finish fourth by trying not to lose games.

I remain optimistic of Benitez leading his side to the top four simply because I believe that the likes of Spurs and Manchester City will run into their own problems in the remaining away games they have left.

So let’s get that glass half full for a change, and give Gerrard and Torres the best possible chance to make an impact in games.

Sometimes you lose when you’re trying to win, sometimes you go for it and get beat.

But what’s the difference? This Liverpool side is getting it so badly wrong that they’re trying not to lose games – and still losing them anyway!

Roberto not shedding tears for Rafa


Roberto Martinez does not feel too much sympathy for Rafa Benitez as he believes there are "too many managers worried at the moment".

Wigan secured only their second victory against 'big four' opposition with a 1-0 win over Liverpool at the DW Stadium.

Wigan's performance heaped more pressure on Benitez, who had appeared to have weathered the storm after early exits from the title race, Champions League and FA Cup.

It left sixth-placed Liverpool's pursuit of Champions League qualification precariously placed with just nine matches of their campaign remaining.

But Martinez was not too concerned for his fellow Spaniard, saying: "Rafa doesn't need my sympathy because he is too talented to be worried.

"I think there are too many managers worried at the moment for me to sympathise with anyone.

"It is quite clear there are still many games. Liverpool have been playing a certain way for a long time now and they have huge experience in their ranks.

"Liverpool, in my eyes, are an outstanding team and I don't see them being too far away from the top four."

The Wigan boss did, however, admit he did not think last night's win over the Merseysiders was unexpected considering the scrutiny Benitez's side are under.

"I wouldn't say it was a surprise they struggled," he added.

"When you put that extra pressure on Liverpool, everyone wants to beat them and with their style people can work tactically against that.

"You always get good and bad performances but I think the Premier League is extremely exciting this season: three teams competing for the title, four teams for fourth place and eight teams to avoid relegation."

Babel: Down but not out

By James Carroll - LFC Official Website

Ryan Babel admits Liverpool were left bitterly disappointed by Monday's 1-0 defeat at Wigan Athletic – but the Dutchman insists the Reds' top four prospects shouldn't be written off.

Hugo Rodallega's first-half goal condemned Rafael Benitez's side to their first ever loss against the Latics and ensured they remain in sixth position in
the Barclays Premier League table - a point behind Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City, both of whom have games in hand.

Babel acknowledges Liverpool's frustration at the reversal, but the forward, who was a second-half substitute at the DW Stadium, is confident the Reds can embark on another morale-boosting run as the season enters its latter stages.

"I think we made it difficult for ourselves," he said. "In the first half especially, there was space to play football but we failed to do it.

"Then they scored and it was difficult because they were staying behind the ball. In any away game it is hard to score two goals.

"We definitely still have faith we can get fourth place. It will be harder and it's important to get three points in every game, as it was before Wigan. That's why it is so disappointing to have lost.

"It is frustrating that we had built up some confidence by winning games, but one game can spoil the confidence.

"The disappointment is very big for everybody, but we have to start again."

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez spoke of his dissatisfaction following the defeat at the DW Stadium - pinpointing a sloppy first-half display as a key reason for the reversal.

Babel admits the manager did not say much in the dressing room after the final whistle, though the 23-year-old revealed players and staff will review tapes of the game at Melwood on Tuesday.

"We will analyse the game and then we will know what his thoughts are," he said.

Liverpool resume action on Thursday with a trip to France to take on Lille in the first leg of the last 16 Europa League tie - and Babel is certain he and his teammates will be ready.

He added: "We have another important game on Thursday, so we have to be ready and prepared.

"We cannot be disappointed for too long. We will analyse and watch videos, like we always do, and I am sure we will be good for the game."

Another inept display
just raises more questions

Comment by Ian Doyle - Liverpool Daily Post

Never mind the new pitch, Liverpool laid out the red carpet for Wigan Athletic last night.

An utterly woeful performance from Rafael Benitez’s side saw them slip to defeat at the DW Stadium and suffer a devastating blow to their hopes of Champions League qualification.

Knowing victory would move them back into fourth place, Liverpool were architects of their own downfall as Hugo Rodallega’s 35th-minute strike was enough to deepen the gloom at Anfield.

That it was Wigan’s first-ever victory over Liverpool at the 12th attempt said everything about a truly shockingly inept display that raises serious questions about the rest of the campaign and beyond.

Liverpool clearly don’t like Mondays, having not won on the first day of the working week since 2001 – a sequence of nine games.

And they never convinced that statistic would be altered here, Roberto Martinez increasing the pressure on his Spanish compatriot by masterminding a famous

Liverpool couldn’t even use the playing surface as an excuse, Wigan having laid down a completely fresh pitch in response to complaints over the previous turf.

No. This defeat was purely down to talent, teamwork and desire. And over the full 90 minutes – and in particular a pathetic first half – Liverpool didn’t show
anywhere near enough.

Benitez will come in for some heavy criticism with the result again sparking debate over whether his time at Anfield is coming to an ignominious close.

But the Liverpool manager was right to afterwards berate the character and attitude of his players, particularly given an opening 45 minutes that made the stunned visiting supporters question whether the team were even aware of the team’s current predicament.

Sure, for the second time in three Premier League games Liverpool accrued five bookings, suggesting determination and bodies being put on the line.

Yet the yellow cards shown to Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres were out of frustration at the general malaise, the stellar duo as guilty as anyone for this
dismal surrender.

On this evidence, Liverpool can forget fourth place. Indeed, they will struggle to earn a berth in the Europa League if there are any more repeats of an evening that should not be forgotten.

Where is the guile? Where is the imagination? Where is the creativity? And with last night’s return of Glen Johnson, injuries can no longer be used as
a possible excuse.

The statistics make for grim reading.

Before the game, Wigan were in freefall having won just one of their previous 13 top-flight games, scoring just twice in their last seven outings.

With the Latics having kept just five clean sheets in 27 league fixtures this season, the opportunity was there for Benitez’s side to improve on a poor scoring record that had seen them fail to net in five of their last seven away league games.

Liverpool have given themselves so little margin for error in the race for Champions League qualification that every game is built up into a must-win, the tension restricting the players to produce and resulting in far too many dour, desperate, incident-free encounters.

And with Wigan teetering just above the relegation zone, it’s small wonder there were so many empty seats at a chilly, miserable DW Stadium. Even the half-time pies weren’t up to much.

The decisive moment had come 10 minutes before then, with Wigan scoring their first goal in more than six hours.

They still required a helping hand from Liverpool in creating the opening, Dirk Kuyt catching his own defence off-guard by playing a pass straight to the feet of Emmerson Boyce on the right flank, who instantly crossed into the centre where Rodallega, having ghosted in front of Javier Mascherano, prodded in past Pepe Reina.

The manner of the goal was perhaps no surprise, given the number of times Liverpool coughed up possession during the first half.

Up until that point, the most intriguing aspect of a chronic match was that Wigan’s former Liverpool goalkeeper Chris Kirkland had somehow managed to avoid injury.

To be fair, the visitors did have a few openings.

After a deceiving bright start, a Gerrard corner was cleared by Marcelo Moreno to Maxi Rodriguez, and the Argentine headed back to the far post where Torres struck the outside of the woodwork from six yards.

And on 27 minutes, a rare incisive move saw Yossi Benayoun fed by Kuyt, dance around Maynor Figueroa but elect to cut the ball back instead of shooting, Gerrard rushed into an eventually harmless effort.

But too often their movement was non-existent, epitomised by one moment when Gerrard, accepting possession near the halfway line, looked up and flailed his arms in frustration at finding precisely no Liverpool players making any runs whatsoever.

Matters did improve marginally after falling behind. Torres headed over a good Rodriguez cross and, shortly after the break, fired wastefully over from a decent position after being found by the same player.

But only the alertness of Sotirios Kyrgiakos, back after serving his domestic three-match suspension, prevented Wigan scoring a ridiculous second on 59 minutes.

In defending a long ball, Jamie Carragher took command of the situation ahead of Reina but smacked his clearance at Moreno, Kyrgiakos racing back
to head clear off the line.

With Liverpool pressing forward and the home team dangerous on the counter-attack, the game almost became mildly entertaining.

But despite the encouragement of Wigan’s inability to shut up shop, Benitez’s side struggled to test Kirkland.

And Wigan almost snatched a second on 73 minutes when Reina did enough to divert an N’Zogbia cross away from goal and a sliding Paul Scharnercouldn’t quite divert the ball in at the far post.

Moments later, Kuyt nodded down a fine Emiliano Insua cross but the volley from Torres dropped the wrong side of the post for Liverpool.

And while Alberto Aquilani and Ryan Babel were brought on to fleetingly raise hopes of an equaliser, Wigan always looked the more likely to extend
their lead.

Any more of this and it’s not a new pitch that Liverpool will require.

Benitez questions attitude

By James Riach - Sky Sports

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez was disappointed with his team's attitude after their defeat to Wigan Athletic.

The Reds were beaten 1-0 at the DW Stadium in a Premier League tie that could prove influential in the race for a top-four finish come the end of the season.

Liverpool had looked to have turned the corner in recent weeks after a poor run of form, but a woeful performance that lacked creativity in the final third will give hope to their rivals in a hunt for a UEFA Champions League spot.

Hugo Rodallega got the only goal of the game on 35 minutes, slotting home an Emmerson Boyce cross from the right after Dirk Kuyt surrendered possession.

And Benitez had no qualms about the result after the final whistle.

"We have to be really disappointed, after a defeat you always cannot be happy," he told Sky Sports.

"In the first-half we didn't do anything, (we were) giving the ball away, not winning any first or second balls.

"It's difficult to explain. The second-half a much better attitude but it wasn't enough.

"It's difficult to explain. I think it's a question of attitude in the first-half.

"I think that the players in the second-half showed character. I think sometimes we were playing too quick, but at least we showed character, in the first-half we didn't play well."

When asked about Wigan's performance, Benitez remarked: "I think that they were working very hard from the beginning to the end. We expected this."

Liverpool's position in the quest for a top-four finish is hurt by the fact that they have now played more games than any other side in contention.

But Benitez, who promised that he would lead the Anfield outfit to a Champions League berth earlier in the campaign, insists they will not give up.

He added: "We have to keep going. We have an important game on Thursday (against Lille) and then we have to keep going, keep winning games if we can.

"We had some chances but we didn't play well."

When asked what the atmosphere was like in the dressing room after the game, he said: "Everybody was really low."

Hugo hits Reds' top-four challenge


Hugo Rodallega's eighth Premier League goal of the season put a huge dent in Liverpool's top-four hopes as Wigan won 1-0 at the DW Stadium.

The Colombia international volleyed home Emmerson Boyce's 35th-minute cross after Dirk Kuyt had needlessly given away possession close to his ownpenalty area.

Liverpool showed little of the quality required for a place in the Champions League once Fernando Torres had hit a post in the eighth minute and the Latics were well worth their victory.

It was Wigan's first Premier League win over Liverpool and only their second over one of the so-called 'big four' - the other coming at home to Chelsea earlier this season.

That ended a run of seven league matches without a victory and lifted them four points clear of the relegation zone.

And while it was only sixth-placed Liverpool's second defeat in 11 games it could have done irreparable damage to their chances of finishing fourth as they have now played more games than all of their rivals.

Rafael Benitez's side's problems are clear to see as this was the sixth time in their last eight away league matches they have failed to score.

The closest they came in this game was when Torres hit the outside of the upright after Maxi Rodriguez's header from Steven Gerrard's corner dropped to him at the far post.

But Wigan quickly grew in confidence and Marcelo Moreno was only inches from connecting with a driven cross through the six-yard area by Charles N'Zogbia, who was causing left-back Emiliano Insua plenty of problems.

Rodallega curled over a 20-yard free-kick after being fouled by Lucas Leiva while Insua's difficulties against N'Zogbia continued as he was booked for bringing down his opponent in the centre-circle.

Gerrard could have opened the scoring in the 26th minute after good link play between Rodriguez, Kuyt and Yossi Benayoun but the England international's first shot was blocked by Paul Scharner and although he quickly recovered he could not hit the target with the follow-up.

Lucas was next to be booked for tripping Titus Bramble and Sotirios Kyrgiakos was also cautioned for cynically blocking off Scharner.

Liverpool were struggling to find any sort of rhythm and their alarming tendency to give the ball away proved expensive in the 35th minute.

Kuyt, deep position on the left, rolled the ball aimlessly to Boyce who instantly fired a cross to the far post where Rodallega poked home.

It was the first time the Reds had conceded in the opening 45 minutes of a league match for 11 games.

Bramble was then booked for clattering into the back of Torres, who headed over Rodriguez's cross from six yards just before half-time.

Within 42 seconds of the second half kicking-off Mascherano had to be quick to block Rodallega's shot.

At the other end Torres, unusually for him, failed to hit the target from Rodriguez's cut-back.

Ten minutes into the half Johnson replaced Lucas, with Mascherano returning to his favoured central midfield.

Liverpool almost gifted Wigan a second as Jose Reina came out to claim a through-ball only for Carragher to knock it past him and then smashed his clearance into Moreno.

The ball looped towards the goal only for Kyrgiakos to get back to head over his own crossbar.

However, Liverpool were not getting any better and Torres' ambitious 25-yard volley summed things up when it went out for a throw close to the right corner flag.

Wigan should have had a second in the 73rd minute when Rodallega's pass put N'Zogbia through but his shot was partially stopped by Reina and Johnson scrambled the ball out at the far post under pressure from Scharner.

Moments later Torres' volley from Kuyt's header down rolled agonisingly wide of the post.

Liverpool's frustrations boiled over as first the Spain international was booked after chasing Boyce half the length of the pitch to bring him down and then Gerrard was then cautioned for diving in on McCarthy, despite appearing to win the ball.

A sign of Liverpool's desperation could been seen in the five minutes of injury time when Kyrgiakos went to play up front.

It typified a night when the Reds' short-comings this season were laid bare by an industrious but by no means brilliant Wigan side.

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