18 October 2008

Liverpool 3-2 Wigan

Arbeloa Carragher Agger Dossena
Pennant Alonso Gerrard Riera
Kuyt Keane

Zaki 29’ 45+2’
Kuyt 37’ 85’
Riera 80

This cannot keep happening.

So much for Wigan coming to Anfield and shutting up shop. They deserved to be 1-2 up at halftime for their willingness to get forward, but both goals were of Liverpool’s making. The away side seemed happier to stay behind in the ball in the second half, but another sending off opened up the game, and another two goals in the last 10 minutes won it.

Wigan were truly better throughout the first half. Liverpool couldn’t get a hold of the ball for the first ten minutes, and the visitors were far more comfortable in possession.

The first warning came after 23 minutes, when Reina had to save from Kapo and clear the potential rebound after the attacker was put through. Six minutes later, Agger dwelled in possession when Reina gave him the ball at the top of the box with Zaki ten yards away. The Egyptian hitman closed him down immediately (although the Dane’s touch didn’t do him any favors), stole the ball, and slotted past Reina. With the form Zaki’s in, it’s unforgivable to give him a chance like that.

It looked like Liverpool would turn matters around fairly quickly, and Agger was at the center of it. He worked hard to redeem himself, bringing the ball out of defense and continuing his run for a return ball from Riera Dossena, then beating a defender to get into space to cut it back for Kuyt, who made no mistake.

The goal settled Liverpool, and only Kirkland’s fingertips prevented Kuyt from securing the lead with a thunderbolt from outside the box in the 43rd. But Wigan struck again on the stroke of halftime. Dossena (along with Agger) was unable to close down Valencia or stop the cross, and Zaki bicycled a beautiful volley after Arbeloa drifted away from him.

And the second half was fairly standard fare until the 74th minute. Wigan were more content to sit back and soak up pressure, which they did (Kuyt had a great chance in the 58th, with Kirkland making another excellent save, but that was about it) until Valencia was sent off for a two yellows.

Bruce was infuriated, but he couldn’t have any complaints about the second yellow, which was an awful tackle on Alonso (how does he keep drawing these?). And the first was Valencia’s stupidity two minutes prior, finally booked after refusing to stay 10 yards away from a free kick.

Liverpool quickly took advantage. Benitez sent on El Zhar for Dossena and Benayoun for Arbeloa and it paid dividends right away. Riera gets full credit for the first, running through defense and getting a return ball from El Zhar after a pretty Gerrard dummy, which he side-footed in from the top of the box with his right foot.

And once again, Kuyt got the winner. Five minutes after the equalizer, the Dutchman met Pennant’s cross with an effort similar to Zaki’s acrobatic second. Unsurprisingly, Kuyt’s was far less aesthetically pleasing, but it was just as effective. That’d be his third late winner of the season, and his fifth goal in five against Wigan.

What can you say about this team? There was an element of luck with another sending off, and yes, for the first 70 minutes Wigan deserved their lead, but Liverpool still had to score the goals. Plus, Valencia earned his dismissal; the second yellow could have seen red itself.

But there’s a bit to worry about in defense. Agger wasn’t the most assured in his return (although I’m still very pleased he didn’t hide after his mistake, and was instrumental in the equalizer), and honestly, I thought Dossena was flat-out awful (and could have seen red himself, lucky to only get a yellow for a bad tackle in the 39th).

However, I can’t help but be happy. There are things to worry about, and I reiterate what I said in the opening – this sort of fortune isn’t likely to last forever. But it’s another never-say-die comeback win that Liverpool needed to keep pace with Chelsea, and it happened right after an international break and with Torres, Mascherano, and Babel all absent. That’ll certainly do.


nate said...

Oh, and one more thing I forgot to add.

This was the 8th premier league game of the season. Liverpool's won six and drawn two.

At halftime, Liverpool's record in those eight games is even in six and losing in two.

Rafa's halftime chats must be spectacular.

iskoppa said...

Another day, another dollar! This year will be known as "The come back kids season"!
If I did not have bad blood pressure before this game I do now!

Django said...

Telling that aside from the lineup, Keane's name didn't make the recap. Certainly wasn't the only one who was less than impressive, but he was poor throughout today, only glimpse of skill was the ball to Kuyt that was saved well by Kirkland. Other than that he looked out of sorts. Not sure what is going on, but he's a shell of the man who was Tottenham's player of the year three times. I'm behind him all the way, but days like today can't be good for his confidence.

Anonymous said...

This team is blessed by some sort of strange, fickle and very silly deity. Whatevs though, I'm at the alter. Let's hope it moves to consistent, solid play because I don't know of any deity that would move them past strong sides when they are playing like they are. Love those Mersey boys though. Woke up the neighbors this AM.

Djanjo, total agreement bout Keane. Towards the end he was fed two pity balls by Kuyt and Gerrard when they both had much better chances at goal. They are all trying to get him going...maybe he isn't at the alter yet. Joe Boo anyone?

Riera is a stud and now is in great form. Kuyt - wowzers. Get in! Agger adds such a wonderful dimension. He struts forward and provides great work. Every once in a while Skrtel did this, but it was more humorous than anything. In form, a great asset to the squad. No one else can do what he does. Thanks Nate - great recap.


Ibracadabra said...

Would Benayoun lead the league in +/- rating if footie had hockey's equivalent. He comes on for 20 minutes a game, and Liverpool usually score and don't concede.