Club Focus – Liverpool – Suarez shines in disappointing draw

Luis Suarez struck the woodwork twice as Liverpool’s four-match winning streak came to an end with a 1-1 draw against Wigan at Anfield. The 24-year-old January signing from Ajax made his full debut in a Red shirt and looked lively throughout the encounter, but it was in-form midfielder Raul Meireles who slammed in his fifth goal in six games to give Kenny Dalglish’s side the lead. The visitors denied Liverpool the victory though, thanks to Steve Gohouri’s controversial second-half equaliser.

Replays showed that the Ivorian defender was offside when he knocked the ball past Jose Reina, nevertheless the relegation-threatened Latics did enough over the 90 minutes to earn a vital point. Liverpool’s performance was somewhat lacking compared to how well they have played over the last month, though following four consecutive clean sheets, Dalglish will be forgiven this minor slip up as the Reds aim to catch Tottenham and Chelsea, who sit fourth and fifth in the Premier League table respectively.

Indeed, previous victories over Chelsea, Stoke, Fulham and Wolves made this draw against lowly Wigan quite difficult to take. Many Reds fans expected their side would continue their winning run, especially after Meireles’ goal. However, the midweek internationals evidently played some part in a Liverpool display which lacked some spark. Nevertheless, the Merseysiders are in a much better position now than when Dalglish took charge. Instead of looking down nervously towards the relegation zone, they are now able to look confidently towards the prospect of finishing in a healthy position which would see them participate in European competition once again. The transformation under Dalglish has been remarkable – and though dropping points to Wigan will disappoint the fans, players and manager alike, Liverpool are fortunate that they are even in a respectable enough position to count this result as an anomaly and move on.

The Reds currently occupy sixth spot in the table, with 39 points gained from 27 games. Champions Chelsea are five points ahead, with two games in hand on Dalglish’s side, whilst Spurs are eight points in front of the Reds, with an extra game to play. With that in mind, fourth spot seems almost out of reach for Liverpool, though should the Merseysiders manage to go on another run of picking up 13 points from five games, then anything is possible. In the meantime, Dalglish’s main concern will be to ensure his side maintain their current position and to put more pressure on the teams directly above them.

Last weekend’s victory against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge played a huge part in lifting the expectations of Reds fans ahead of the home fixture against Wigan, but Liverpool missed their chance to continue their winning streak. However, Dalglish can make amends this week, when the Reds take on Sparta Prague in the Europa League. The game will be Dalglish’s first in charge of a European tie since his return to management, and the man who won three European Cups with Liverpool in his playing days will be hoping for a good performance ahead of the return leg next

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