LFC Player Ratings: Wigan 0-4 Liverpool

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Wigan 0-4 Liverpool
Premier League; Saturday, 2nd March 2013

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Cardiffpete takes a look at the individual performances in the enjoyable 4-0 victory over Wigan on Saturday evening.

Pepe Reina (9): 2 absolutely outstanding saves from Boyce and then Di Santo and a wonderful long pass upfield to Coutinho for our opener. Can there be a better keeper in the League for these types of quick and decisive long balls?. Also saved admirably from Scharner’s header and Beausejour’s free-kick, and late-on as well, in recording a 9th clean sheet this term. Perhaps his finest shot-stopping display for a couple of years and vintage Reina with his pass to Coutinho.

Glen Johnson (8): Brilliant foray forward for Suarez’s hat-trick goal, audaciously taking Gerrard’s return-ball with his back-foot to wrong foot his marker and then powering past 3 Wigan players before delivering an inch-perfect pass to Suarez. Patrolled the right-flank to effect as Downing once again played more centrally (at times) and tucked in at CDM at times. Coped well defensively too, even just doing enough to stop Scharner having a free header at goal

Jose Enrique (7): Stayed back most of the match, although he had a few forward runs as well, in a disciplined performance. Wasn’t beaten in any direct one-on-one, but did lose concentration defensively a couple of times with Reina getting visibly angry then (with the clean sheet very important), but nothing major. Decent game.

Daniel Agger (7.5): Easy day at the office and could just hold his hands up to demand the ball (and the pass to him) which he could then play on with ease. Defended very well too and gave Kone nothing on the day.

Jamie Carragher (7): A little shaky initially, missing the cross for Kone’s scuffed chance in the first minute and a few passing errors and a few long balls, but nothing major to compain about. Decent game, though a little less impressive than recently, perhaps due to the quick games in succession and his age.

Lucas Leiva (8): Very impressive game in which he did a huge amount of the hard (and largely unsung) work aka tracking, positioning, cutting-off passing angles, covering and tackling. Made all of 13 tackles – although 6 were called for a foul, of which 3 were probably pretty soft. In the reverse fixture (in November, with Allen-Gerrard-Suso (subbed-off for Hendo on 35′)) our entire midfield attempted just 12 tackles all game, as against 29 on Saturday. He was also our most accurate and our most prolific passer on the day, with some very nice and quick passing. I also like how Rodgers is now using him in the Kuyt-role as well, aka whenever we have set-plays putting him in the wall and in-and-around the box, actively looking for a rebound to pounce upon, rather than just sticking him back on the half-way line on these plays. Lucas is highly unlikely to score in general play anytime soon, but he very much might on a rebound. Once upon a time (in Brazil), he even used to be fairly prolific and it’s nice to see BR looking towards utilizing (to the full) any off-chance of a goal and shows BR also thinking about the small details.

Joe Allen (7.5): Could have scored twice on the day, once when Suarez’s shot was parried and then later-on. Got into the box many times (which was nice to see) including a late supporting burst when Downng headed it in. Also offered Coutinho a second option by hugging the right edge of the box on our second. His on-the-shoulder play here probably forced Figueroa (plus the other 3 Wigan defenders) to not try the offside trap and played a small, but not insignificant part, in our wonder second goal. Late in the game, (at one point) we had 5 players queuing up in the box to finish a cross and he was one of those, symbolizing his willingness to take up attacking positions. Overall though, I thought that he looked a little lost whenever Wigan had the ball, as in not entirely sure of his role or position. He drifted and followed the ball a bit too much (nothing major)…and he did keep it simple in general and just facilitate the others on the day, in a cog-in-the-machine manner.

Steven Gerrard (8): Wonderful and incisive flick to free Coutinho into space on our second. Didn’t try too much on the day and played with good discipline, also in racking up some important tackles and some timely passes back to Reina to avoid (or else cut-out) danger. Also played many long balls. Nice to see him not required so much as our go-to-guy in attack and just do the unsung work and keep it simple. Impressive game and thriving in his new role this season.

Luis Suarez (9.5): When he’s on this sort of form, there are maybe only 2 other players better in World football at the moment (PS: I don’t mean Bale ). I’m just left wondering when he’s going to finally hit 4 or 5 goals for us …like he’s done previously for Uruguay and Ajax on a few occasions. When he first arrived at LFC, it was mostly a single goal (or an assist) every few games. I thought to myself …this isn’t the Suarez I remember at Ajax. Then last term he hit his first brace against Stoke in our come-from-behind League Cup win and then his first hat-trick against Norwich late-on. This season he has 2 hat-tricks to his name and a further 4 braces (Wigan at Anfield, QPR, Sunderland and Zenit). That’s much more like the Suarez that I remember at Ajax …and I don’t think he’ll stop there either (or be even remotely satisfied with these numbers himself). When at Ajax in 2009/10, he had 1x 6 goals, 3x 4 goals, 2x hat-tricks and 8x braces in a single season. You think it can’t get any better than this? It can though. It seriously can. By the way, I still don’t see him as a pure striker.

Coutinho (8.5): Very bright opening 20 minutes. He hugged the touch-line on occassion, he played off-the-shoulder as the last man, he drifted into number 10. And everytime he changed position, it was the right choice. He already produced a great run on to Reina’s pass and then delivered a sublime cross for Downing’s header and he then bettered it 15 minutes later with a wonder goal. First-off, wonderful inter-play on the half-way line with Gerrard, then a brilliant driving run and lastly an almost nonchalant pass to Suarez. It all looked so simple …and it is, though only if you’re a move or two ahead of everyone else in reading the game. Also tried a few one-twos around their box, which didn’t quite come off and he made a great supporting run on Suarez’s hat-trick goal. If Suarez had squared it he would surely have scored then. He was also a willing runner in defence and worked hard. Having said that, he’s still very raw indeed and he faded physically as the game went on.

Stewart Downing (7): Scored a brilliant opener with his head, after a typical striker’s run into the box and then with a peel-off (and back). Had a great shooting chance soon afterwards too. Worked hard in defense on the day to cut out Wigan’s wing threat, but was less of a threat offensively.

SUBS

Jordan Henderson (on for Coutinho, 70 min) (6): Decent cameo and had a chance to score with header from a late corner, but I would feel that he’s moving down the pecking order yet again. That’s probably always a risk/problem when you have no specialist position to call your own and thus get used in an utility role.

General thoughts on the match:

A simple and comprehensive victory on the day and one against a side which has been a stumbling block for us (for far too long) in recent years. No reason at all that the Wigan’s of this world should pose a major problem for us. BR got it right on the day, by not going toe-to-toe with them, in trying to impose our passing game. Earlier in the season, he did try to out-pass and out-possess Swansea in both the League Cup and in the League (0-0), which turned out to be very counter-productive. Instead, you should probably hit them hard and hit them direct and capitalize on your (far) superior individual qualities.

Rodgers went far more direct against Wigan on Saturday and it worked, just as it worked againt Swansea (5-0). No pussy-footing around, just hit them hard and fast. Yes, they had chances. Yes, they (once again) out-passed and out-possessed us …but only one team controlled the game. This team performance showed that we can even maybe win ugly if we need to.

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