Wigan 0 Liverpool 4: Roberto Martinez to put FA Cup hopes to one side amid relegation scrap

 

Of all the clubs playing in the shadow of relegation, only Wigan are still in the FA Cup and their manager, Roberto Martinez, said he would not allow the chance of silverware to imperil their prospects of survival.

Martinez will radically change his side for Saturday's quarter-final at Everton, although he may have been tempted to make significant alterations anyway after a 4-0 defeat undermined by defensive incompetence. Liverpool were smooth and Luis Suarez inspired but their first win at the DW Stadium in six years was given considerable assistance.

"Yes," Martinez said when asked if cup runs affect league performances. "If you have the same 11 players, it is impossible to maintain the same level of performance. That is proven.

"But if you have a big enough squad you can share demands and that is what we have done this season. Success in the Cup is what we want but not at the price of our league status. I will never allow that to happen."

Four teams since the war have reached FA Cup finals and been relegated and only one – Middlesbrough in 1997 – improved their league position during their Cup run.

The expectation is that Wigan, the arch-escapologists, will survive but this was a savage defeat against opponents whose measure they have had. Given that Aston Villa will face Reading and Queen's Park Rangers before Wigan next play a league match, the expectation at Wigan must now be that they will be back in the relegation zone before they face Newcastle United on 17 March.

"Our situation is a dangerous one and it would be wrong to think we will achieve our aim easily," said Martinez. "We were not anywhere near the level we needed to be against a top side like Liverpool."

Liverpool are only slowly becoming a "top side". For their manager, Brendan Rodgers, it is crucial to finish higher than eighth, the position achieved by his predecessor, Kenny Dalglish, who did so while reaching two cup finals.

"A season of transition" which Rodgers promised is not much of a slogan with which to rush to the barricades and are words Bill Shankly would never have uttered.

However, with Liverpool's January transfers, Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho, making instant impacts, there are signs that the "work in progress" may be coming to fruition.

In football there are several magic numbers and one of them is 1.71 – the average number of points per game you need to qualify for the Champions League. It says something for the pace of Rodgers' overhaul of Liverpool that only now are they hitting that target.

"If you break the season into quarters, we had a difficult first one, with lots of application," said Rodgers. "In the second we got better and in the third we kicked on again."

Liverpool's first nine matches produced an average of 1.1 points per game, enough to have finished 16th last season. Their next nine brought them 1.6 (seventh place). Only now do the figures match Liverpool's ambition.

Goals: Liverpool Downing 2, Suarez 18, 34, 49. Substitutions: Wigan Alcaraz 5 (Di Santo, 52), Espinoza 5 (Caldwell, 52), McManaman 6(Beausejour, 61). Liverpool Henderson 6 (Coutinho, 71).

Bookings: Wigan Caldwell, McArthur. Liverpool Allen, Lucas.

Man of the match Suarez. Match rating 6/10. Possession: Wigan 52%. Liverpool 48%.

Attempts on target: Wigan 6. Liverpool 6.

Referee M Atkinson (West Yorkshire). Att 20,804.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea