Match Report: Luis Suarez walks on, but mostly alone

Liverpool 3 Wigan Athletic 0

Anfield

The greatest football heroes do not play in great teams. Like Diego Maradona at Napoli or Steven Gerrard in the European Cup final in Istanbul, they often provide the only pathway to glory.

Or like Alan Shearer at Newcastle they are a bulwark against mediocrity.

Luis Suarez falls into the second camp. His position at Liverpool is probably not that dissimilar to what it was when he played football in the streets of Montevideo. He is the first pick and everything revolves around placing a football at his feet.

When Suarez latched on to Raheem Sterling’s pull-back and drove the ball into the roof of Ali Al-Habsi’s net, the television commentator shouted: “And where would Liverpool be without him?” Since he has scored 10 of their 17 goals and provided two assists, the answer is deep in the relegation zone. 

Brendan Rodgers was anxious to stress that, despite all the statistics to the contrary, Liverpool are more than a one-man team, although he described Suarez as a “master marksman”. His opposite number, Roberto Martinez, however, preferred to focus on his darker side.

“He scored from the first mistake we made and his finish was that of a top player,” the Wigan manager said. “From then on, we opened up and created spaces and that is when he really enjoys his football. But he was very fortunate because he stamped on David Jones and it would have been a red card if the referee had seen it. That was not the sign of a top player.”

What added to Martinez’s frustration was that once more Wigan’s small squad suffered after an international break and that the loss of Ben Watson, who broke a leg in a collision with Sterling, made that squad smaller still. It was an accident but the crack as the two men collided was sickening and Martinez confirmed the worst.

Wigan had become a strange kind of bogey side to Liverpool in the same way that in their glory years, they always had problems with Leicester. Their last victory over Wigan was three years and as many managers ago. However, Rodgers pointed out that this time Liverpool took their chances.

It began with an error, which if it was Wigan’s first of the afternoon, as Martinez claimed, was instantly punished. Jean Beausejour spun around in horror after his sloppy back pass was intercepted by Sterling. The Uruguayan’s instinct did the rest. It was the fifth consecutive game in which he had scored.

That was when the game changed. Hitherto, Liverpool had performed much as they had all season, with plenty of possession but not much edge, typified by a sequence of passes that began near the Wigan area and finished with Daniel Agger passing back to his goalkeeper, Pepe Reina, returning for the first time in six weeks and greeted by a giant banner on the Kop with his picture and the slogan “No Pasaran”. Apart from a shot that struck his post, not much from Wigan did threaten to pass.

Rodgers removed another much younger Spaniard, Suso, well before half time on the grounds that “our organisation at the front end of the field was not what I wanted” but once Suarez struck, Liverpool’s confidence returned.

The mood was best displayed in a lovely ball from Jose Enrique that Suarez, running between two defenders, seized upon. Al-Habsi came out but the shot was past him almost before he could spread himself. There might have been a hat-trick to match the one at Norwich but, after wriggling through, Suarez found only the side-netting.

The third extinguished whatever resistance Wigan had left as a one-two involving Sterling and Suarez was parried by Al-Habsi’s gloves into Jose Enrique’s path. Rodgers had used the left back as a winger and pointed out that Gareth Bale had made the same transformation. Since this was Enrique’s first Premier League goal, this was perhaps a comparison too far.

Liverpool (4-3-2-1): Reina; Wisdom, Skrtel, Agger, Johnson; Allen, Gerrard, Jose Enrique; Sterling, Suso; Suarez. Subs: Henderson for Suso 37, Carragher for Agger 82, Shelvey for Suarez 87.

Wigan (4-4-2) Al Habsi; Ramis, Caldwell, Boyce, Figueroa; Watson, McCarthy, Maloney, Beausejour; Di Santo, Kone. Subs: Jones for Watson 32, Gomez for Caldwell 70, Miyaichi for Di Santo 70.

Referee: Kevin Friend

Man of the match: Suarez (Liverpool) Match rating: 6/10

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
travel
News
news
News
Sir James Dyson: 'Students must be inspired to take up the challenge of engineering'
i100
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) in Happy Valley ((C) Red Productions/Ben Blackall)
TV
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?