A rare headed goal by Stewart Downing and a Luis Suarez hat-trick gave Liverpool a comfortable 4-0 victory and kept Wigan on the edge of the drop zone. It was a combination of clinical finishing combined with Latics poor defending that gave the Merseysiders the valuable three points.
In only the 2nd minute good work by Brazilian Phillipe Coutinho created the opportunity for Downing and the former Middlesbrough player headed only his second ever goal for Liverpool.
It was a shocking set back for Wigan but things got worse in the 18th minute when Coutinho combined with Suarez and the prolific Uruguayan slotted the ball past Ali Al Habsi.
Going forward Wigan had looked dangerous but defensively they were in disarray. The discontent was exemplified by Emmerson Boyce and James McArthur squaring up to each other after Suarez had been played in on goal following a sloppy back pass by Gary Caldwell.
The game was effectively over as a contest on 34 minutes when Suarez free-kick was deflected off Shaun Maloney’s head onto the post and beyond Al Habsi in the Wigan goal.
Wigan’s luck was clearly out and the shell-shocked players went into the break knowing that it would require a minor miracle for them to get anything from the game.
Early in the second half Liverpool compounded their dominance by adding a fourth. Glen Johnson was allowed space down the right hand side and the England full back played in Suarez, who scored through the legs of Al Habsi.
Wigan did not give up however, and it is to their credit that they continued to play progressive football and created some chances.
Pepe Reina was in fine form throughout and the keeper produced good saves to keep out a Maloney header and to deny Arouna Kone. Add these to the superb saves from Boyce and Franco Di Santo in the first half and the score could have been much closer.
Overall Wigan had 26 shots compared to Liverpool’s 15 but the main difference was the quality of Luis Suarez’s finishing. The controversial South American striker has now scored five goals in the two games between the two sides and Wigan will be relieved that they do not have to face him again this season.
The result gives Roberto Martinez plenty of food for thought for the ongoing fight against relegation and the forthcoming FA cup quarter-final at Everton. Wigan’s normally reliable midfielders James McCarthy and James McArthur had an off day and the defence looked vulnerable throughout.
Wigan’s home form this season has been disappointing and defensive mistakes all too common. If they are to stay up they must start to win at home and eradicate the sloppy defending that has blighted their game.
Martinez may well tweak his defensive line up at Goodison with Golobart and Alcaraz in contention, and if the change is successful it could well become the template for the remaining league fixtures.