Liverpool seek end to league slump
23 March 2012, 10:46
England - Liverpool head into their Premier League match against relegation-threatened Wigan at Anfield on Saturday with supporters still wondering what to make of Kenny Dalglish's squad.
Dalglish has delivered a first trophy since 2006 with the victory over Cardiff in the League Cup final and the Reds will face either Everton or Sunderland in the FA Cup semifinals next month.
But Liverpool's Premier League form has been a cause for concern all season and their 3-2 loss at QPR – where they led 2-0 – in midweek was a ninth defeat in 29 league games.
They have lost eight of their 15 away matches and their record in front of their own fans has also been a source of frustration.
Dalglish's team have only been beaten once, in a 2-1 defeat by Arsenal at the start of the month, but they have only managed five wins and Norwich, Swansea, Blackburn and Stoke are among eight teams to have left Anfield with a draw.
It all adds up to them being 28 points off Premier League leaders and bitter rivals Manchester United and just 19 ahead of third bottom Bolton.
Having spent around £110 million ($174 million) since he returned to Anfield in January last year, Dalglish will have expected a much greater return for his investment.
After the QPR match, the Liverpool manager was left to rue his team's familiar inability to take their chances.
"We need to find answers and make sure we're going to learn from it," he said. "For most of the game we were dominant.
"We were really creative, thoughtful and professional, but they (QPR) have walked away with three points."
Dalglish continues to enjoy the adulation of Liverpool supporters due to his standing as one of the Merseyside club's greatest players and his previous stint as Reds manager.
But if the miserable Anfield form continues against Wigan, could well face the frustration of the fans.
Charlie Adam sustained a knee problem at Loftus Road and Daniel Agger, Craig Bellamy and Glen Johnson are all likely to miss out against Wigan on Saturday.
Meanwhile Wigan manager Roberto Martinez believes his side can still escape relegation despite a tough run-in.
Three points from safety with nine games remaining, Wigan still have to face Chelsea (away), Manchester United (home) and Arsenal (away) after Liverpool.
Wigan have won just once in 14 top-flight games and have suffered a serious shortage of goals.
But Martinez insisted: "We have produced a positive level of performances in our last few games.
"For one reason or another we haven't been able to take our chances," the Spaniard added.
"The next nine games are crucial for us. Our target is to be consistent over those games.
"It's simple. You have to score goals to win games and we know what we have to do."
On Liverpool's defeat at Wigan's relegation rivals Queens Park Rangers on Wednesday, Martinez added: "I always expected QPR to win.
"The only surprise as far as I was concerned is that Liverpool lost after taking a 2-0 lead.
"I saw Liverpool play Stoke in the FA Cup at Anfield last week and they are a strong group. They're capable of producing a piece of magic at any moment.
"We know we're going to have to be perfect if we're going to get a positive result."
Hugo Rodallega is in a race against time to be fit for the game.
Wigan's Colombian striker has not trained since missing last week's 1-1 draw with West Brom with a knee injury and his chances of playing on Saturday are rated as fifty-fifty by Martinez.
- Sapa / AFP