Wigan 1, Liverpool 1: Taking the Positives From a Missed Opportunity

Jon FeatonbyCorrespondent INovember 11, 2010

WIGAN, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 10:  Steven Gerrard of Liverpool passes the ball away from Hendry Thomas of Wigan Athletic during the Barclays Premier League match between Wigan Athletic and Liverpool at DW Stadium on November 10, 2010 in Wigan, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

After Sunday's memorable and morale-boosting 2-0 win over Chelsea, which catapulted Liverpool into the top half of the table for the first time this season, there were high hopes that the Anfield side would claim all three points from their trip to Wigan.

After Spurs' draw on Tuesday night, a win would have been enough for Liverpool to leapfrog Tottenham and move into the top six.

However, the reality was that Liverpool came away from the DW Stadium grateful for escaping with a point following a 1-1 draw.

Liverpool took the lead after seven minutes, Fernando Torres latching on to Steven Gerrard's through ball to slot expertly past Ali Al-Habsi.

The midfield, which again had Gerrard playing alongside Lucas at its heart, was dominating proceedings and the Liverpool captain should have doubled his sides lead ten minutes later.

Gerrard was presented with a half volley 12 yards from goal after a lovely move involving himself, Torres and Dirk Kuyt, but couldn't keep his effort down.

After this, the Reds appeared to tire and Wigan became more and more dominant.

They had a goal disallowed before Hugo Rodellega got a deserved equaliser after Pepe Reina could only palm away a Ronnie Stam shot.

Liverpool were hanging on, but could have stolen all three points when Maxi Rodriguez split open the Wigan defence to put Gerrard through one-on-one with Al-Habsi. The midfielder's first-time shot beat the keeper, but couldn't beat the crossbar as his effort bounced away to safety.

So, a disappointing result following recent successes, but there are reasons to be optimistic.

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, Torres' goal showed the kind of confidence he has been lacking for most of this season. We've seen him previously take too many touches, trying to walk the ball into the back of the net, but against Wigan he never looked like missing.

Second, Gerrard is much happier playing in a deeper role. With Kuyt back from injury and Roy Hodgson seemingly keen to play the Dutchman alongside Torres, Gerrard is able to have a much greater influence on the game. The two chances—both of which, by his own admission, he should have taken—also show that playing in that role will not hamper his ability to burst into the box and get goals.

It was also good to see Jonjo Shelvey given a full-half of Premiership action. However, that also points to some of the injury problems the squad currently faces. Which is also a positive. The games have been coming thick and fast recently and the XI that started against Wigan was the same that started on Sunday.

With Glen Johnson, Fabio Aurelio, Sotirios Kyrgiakos and Ryan Babel all returning to booster the squad in the near future, things are looking much, much better than they were after the 2-0 derby defeat just a few weeks ago.

Roy Hodgson gives me confidence in that 

he hasn't been afraid to trust his younger players and that he doesn't chop and change the side almost constantly—which we were constantly treated to when Rafa Benitez was in charge.

I get the feeling that players are starting to understand their roles better. Paul Konchesky, who played under Hodgson at Fulham, has recently said that Hodgson likes each of his players to know what is expected of them and this seems to have started to happen. Lucas' performances of late speak to this fact.

Liverpool have a couple of winnable games coming up, starting with an away trip to Stoke on Saturday afternoon. It's never the nicest of away trips, but Stoke have had an up-and-down start to the season and three points should be the target.

Following a home game with West Ham comes a massive match against Tottenham against White Hart Lane. That game will be a real marker for Liverpool and if they can go into it on a good run of form, then it should be a cracker.


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