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DW Stadium (ATT 19,230) 21st December 2011 - Kick off 20:00 Ref: M Oliver

Wigan Wigan Athletic vs Liverpool Liverpool

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Suarez fails to shine

Al Habsi penalty save gives Martinez's men a share of the points

Last Updated: 21/12/11 10:25pm

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Luis Suarez was unable to let his football do the talking on a night when the Uruguayan experienced a comparatively quiet night in Liverpool's 0-0 draw at Wigan.

Man of the match: Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi was excellent and his penalty stop from Charlie Adam earned his team a point. Save of the match: Al Habsi's block of Adam's spot-kick was crucial for Wigan. It provided Roberto Martinez's team with confidence for the rest of the game. Chance of the match: Glen Johnson was denied at a glorious opportunity by another excellent block when one-on-one with Al Habsi Talking point: Was Luis Suarez's comparatively quiet performance a result of his headline-grabbing FA ban? Liverpool have now failed with four penalties this season. What is the problem?

All eyes were on the South American at the DW Stadium less than 24 hours after he was hit with an eight-match ban and £40,000 fine from the Football Association for allegedly racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra.

Liverpool's squad had issued a statement of support for Suarez prior to kick-off and Kenny Dalglish named the man who now wears his famous No.7 shirt in the starting line-up against North West rivals.

But Suarez was not allowed to influence the match against Roberto Martinez's relegation-threatened side to any great extend and Wigan took the point they more than deserved courtesy of man of the match Ali Al Habsi's second-half penalty save from Charlie Adam.

Liverpool have taken three points from their last four matches against Wigan and have not won at their North West rivals since September 2007.

For the Latics, is was a second successive home draw against one of the 'big' teams - having held Chelsea on Saturday, and another point towards their survival battle.

Suarez remains free to play while the club decide whether to appeal against the punishment for misconduct for using insulting words to Evra, which included a reference to the United defender's colour.

Difficult

Prior to the match the Liverpool squad had issued a joint statement fully supporting their team-mate in which they said: "We have lived, trained and played with Luis for almost 12 months and we don't recognise the way he has been portrayed.

"We will continue to support Luis through this difficult period."

As if to press home their message, every player, including the striker himself, wore white T-shirts with the image of a celebrating Suarez in red on the front and the player's name and number seven on the back.

But whatever the club's decision, the stain on the player's character is unlikely to be removed as the Wigan fans, hardly the most aggressive in the Premier League, targeted him with barbed chants and booed him throughout.

If Suarez was expecting any sympathy from his opponents he did not get it and fellow South American Antolin Alcaraz's challenge inside the second minute left the striker clutching the back of his head.

The 24-year-old was involved in many of Liverpool's early attacking, as, after Adam drilled a free-kick into the wall, Suarez, Maxi Rodriguez and Stewart Downing combined to set up Jordan Henderson but his shot was parried behind by Al Habsi.

Decisive

Adam had another goalbound free-kick headed away by David Jones while Rodriguez and Henderson both fired over ambitious volleys from the edge of the area.

Dirk Kuyt had the best chance from Downing's cut-back but Al Habsi did enough to turn aside the shot.

But for all their dominance the visitors began to lose a grip on the game and could well have gone into half-time behind had referee Michael Oliver deemed Martin Skrtel's challenge inside the area on Victor Moses - in which there appeared to be contact - a foul.

Maynor Figueroa and Mohamed Diame both tried their luck from distance before Moses ran 60 yards into the heart of the Reds' defence before forcing Jose Reina to punch clear.

Only Daniel Agger's last-ditch tackle denied Conor Sammon after James McCarthy had robbed Rodriguez 15 yards outside the penalty area as Wigan finished the first half strongly.

Soon after the restart Al Habsi tipped over a Suarez free-kick but it was the hands of Wigan captain Gary Caldwell which made a more decisive intervention in the 50th minute.

Suarez's attempted overhead kick hit the centre-back on his left arm and Oliver pointed to the spot but Adam's penalty was saved by Al Habsi. It was the fourth time this season, all before Christmas, Liverpool have failed to covert a penalty.

Kuyt then volleyed over Adam's chipped free-kick from close range before the Dutchman and Rodriguez were replaced by Craig Bellamy and Jonjo Shelvey for the final 20 minutes while Hugo Rodallega, Wigan's scorer in two of their last three meetings with Liverpool, came on for Sammon.

The Colombia international almost came up trumps with a far-post header from Moses' cross which was deflected behind by Glen Johnson.

Moses then stabbed wide from the resulting corner as Liverpool looked like crumbling before Suarez was substituted for Andy Carroll three minutes from time to a chorus of boos.

Greater tests on and off the field await the Uruguayan but for Wigan it was another deserved point.

Wigan AthleticTeam StatisticsLiverpool
0Goals0
01st Half Goals0
6Shots on Target9
5Shots off Target8
8Blocked Shots4
7Corners14
17Fouls12
0Offsides1
1Yellow Cards2
0Red Cards0
78.8Passing Success81.9
31Tackles20
71Tackles Success65
44.7Possession55.3
44.2Territorial Advantage55.8
359Total Passes442
19Total Crosses29
143Lost Balls159
58Recoveries64
44.81st Half Poss.55.2
44.82nd Half Poss.55.2

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Table

Barclays Premier League

Barclays Premier League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Chelsea 8 22
2 Manchester City 8 17
3 Southampton 8 16
4 West Ham United 8 13
5 Liverpool 8 13
6 Manchester United 7 11
7 Arsenal 8 11
8 Swansea City 8 11
9 Tottenham Hotspur 8 11
10 Stoke City 8 11
11 Hull City 8 10
12 Aston Villa 8 10
13 Everton 8 9
14 Leicester City 8 9
15 West Bromwich Albion 7 8
16 Crystal Palace 8 8
17 Sunderland 8 8
18 Newcastle United 8 7
19 Burnley 8 4
20 Queens Park Rangers 8 4

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