Meireles continues purple patch but Liverpool drop points
It was a disappointing result for Liverpool, as they led through their Portuguese midfielder, but failed to kick on and create a large advantage.
Wigan will be delighted with the point, especially as the equaliser seemed to be offside.
Wigan undoubtedly had the greater share of the first 20 minutes, but it was Liverpool who took the lead halfway through the first half, thanks to Raul Meireles.
In what has been a real purple patch for the Portuguese midfielder, and from Fabio Aurelio’s cross he smashed his volley past Ali Al-Habsi in the bottom corner for his fourth goal in five games.
Liverpool looked to have found their feet, and almost found the back of the net again three minutes later, as Luis Suarez – making his first start for Liverpool – dropped his shoulder and turned to curl an effort against the far post.
Liverpool led all the way to halftime, and were mainly untroubled by Wigan’s front three of Hugo Rodallega, Victor Moses and Charles N’Zogbia, the latter who had been so impressive against West Brom two weeks ago.
Pepe Reina was only called into action from free-kicks, saving a low effort from Charles N’Zogbia’s shot fairly routinely, before coming to punch Ben Watson’s cross from wide on the left.
The reaction from the crowd was coming to match the display on the pitch; it was feeling flat, perhaps due to Liverpool’s recent return to winning ways.
Before the intervention of Kenny Dalglish – who insisted earlier that he is no tactical genius – it would have perhaps been conceivable for Wigan to take a win from this fixture. Particularly if Liverpool had been playing the way they had against, say, Blackpool.
But Dalglish seems to have had a calming effect on the team, and while Liverpool lacked a flow and fluency at times, they never really looked in danger in the first half.
Wigan changed that in the opening minutes of the second half, however, and really should have drawn level through Rodallega.
Moses worked his way down the left, and his ball in found Wigan’s top scorer at the near post, but he side-footed his shot wide of Reina’s post under pressure from Jamie Carragher.
But Rodallega was not forced to speculate on what could have been, as Wigan found an equaliser in the 66th minute.
Carragher had given away a free-kick for a foul on Rodallega wide on the right, and Wigan again proved what a force they are from set-pieces. This time, N’Zogbia’s delivery was spot on, finding Antolin Alcaraz, whose flick-on was poked in by Steve Gohouri at the far post.
There was a hint of offside about the goal, and Liverpool were left complaining in vein to the assistant referee while Wigan wheeled away to celebrate their equaliser.
Things could have been even better for Wigan as Tom Cleverley, on as substitute for Victor Moses, whipped in an inviting ball, and as Reina came to punch, Rodallega got there first, only to nod over the bar.
Liverpool almost made them pay the price immediately, as Luis Suarez won a free-kick, and then proceeded to smash an effort against the bar and over.
The game was certainly kicking into life the further it progressed, with both teams searching for a winner late-on.
Glen Johnson was putting in an impressive performance, almost deployed as an orthodox left-winger. But despite his best efforts Liverpool couldn’t find a way through, as Wigan’s defence showed strong resolve to fight off what was becoming an onslaught.
A late corner for Liverpool was their last true chance, but Martin Skrtel slammed his header over the bar to leave Liverpool still some way behind Tottenham in the hunt for European football.