The Uruguayan received backing from his team-mates and fans before, during and after their match at the DW Stadium but was ultimately unable to inspire them to victory
By Alex Fisher at the DW Stadium
In a week dominated with accusation, counter-accusation and the acrimony surrounding the eight-game ban handed to him by the FA who have found him guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra, Luis Suarez repaid Liverpool's support with a typically tenacious and lively performance, but ultimately it was not enough to beat a spirited Wigan side.
Before the game, the DW Stadium buzzed with talk of the striker’s ban and the effect it could have on Kenny Dalglish’s side. The visiting fans were perplexed at the treatment of their star forward and the home fans happy to see the player being punished for his actions. The chat in the press box was no different, with opinion split over the eight-game ban the Uruguayan could be facing if his appeal does not see it reduced or overturned.
Liverpool publicly backed their striker yesterday and before kick-off the players released a statement in support of Suarez. As they took to the pitch to warm-up they donned t-shirts with his image on the front and his number on the back. Would the events of this week serve as a distraction to the task at hand of getting three points or would it help foster a siege mentality and make Liverpool a more unified team than ever before?
Centre of attention | Suarez was jeered by home fans and cheered by away supporters
The club’s fans joined in the backing of the striker, they sang his name throughout the match and multiple Uruguay flags were flying in the away end at the DW Stadium. The familar sound of the 'Just cant get enough' song Liverpool fans sing about Suarez filled the air for the opening minutes of the match.
Since his arrival from Ajax in January, Suarez has been a revelation at Anfield, donning the iconic No.7 shirt and immediately filling the void left by Fernando Torres as the club's talismanic frontman.
He began the game with a bang to the head after a challenge with Wigan captain Gary Caldwell but after that he was full of energy, buzzing around up front on his own, pulling the Wigan defenders every which way and showing glimpses of his creative spark.
His touch was perfect, he tried all the tricks that he has in his locker and had it not been for Ali Al-Habsi he would have had some goals to celebrate.
His temperament was equally as impressive, if the Wigan fans' reactions are anything to go by he is going to receive plenty of boos and jeers in the coming months but he never let it affect him. When he was given a decision he was jeered, when he was not it was cheered but he accepted referee Mike Oliver’s decisions and displayed professionalism, ocassionaly even breaking into a smile.
| PLAYER RATING
|7.5||The Uruguayan was the man everyone was talking about and his performance was impressive given everything that happened before kick off. He was full of energy, pulling the Wigan defenders every which way and his creative spark nearly created chances for all of his attacking team-mates. The Liverpool fans chanted his name throughout the match.
The Uruguayan's evening came to an end with three minutes of the game remaining, cue cheers from the away end and jeers from the home fans but again he didn’t react and just took his seat on the Liverpool bench – a reaction that must have delighted his manager.
Liverpool have not won at Wigan in four attempts and this result sees them drop further off the pace in the race for European football.
Stewart Downing and Maxi could have contributed more to the performance as both players looked a little lacklustre and were kept quiet by an impressive display from Mohammed Diame; however, the performances of Jordan Henderson and Charlie Adam in the midfield will have encouraged Dalglish and the imminent return of Steven Gerrard could bring some much needed festive cheer.
What will worry Dalglish is how they cope without Suarez if his ban is upheld. The match encapsulated much of Liverpool's season. Plenty of lively and positive interplay but ultimately missing the finish to beat the excellent Al-Habsi. With the transfer window set to open shortly, perhaps a solution might not be so far away.
Nevertheless the Reds will miss Suarez if his ban is upheld. His display against Wigan was fantastic although he tired as the game wore on. Whilst the actions he has been found guilty of cannot be tolerated, his performance in this match, delivered to a backdrop of pantomime boos and cheers, should be commended.
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