Reds title challenge stalled

2009-01-29 06:46

London - Liverpool's bid for a first English title since 1990 suffered a significant setback on Wednesday as Rafael Benitez's side were held to a 1-1 draw at Wigan.

A late penalty equaliser from Egyptian striker Mido earned Wigan a deserved point and enabled Chelsea, 2-0 winners over Middlesbrough, to reclaim second place from Liverpool, courtesy of their superior goal difference.

Both clubs however will be acutely aware that the title is now Manchester United's to lose with the champions, who thrashed West Brom 5-0 on Tuesday, two points clear of both their nearest rivals with a game in hand.

Arsenal's chances of a return to the Champions League next season suffered another blow as they were held to a 1-1 draw at Everton.

It could have been worse for the Gunners but for Robin van Persie's stoppage time equaliser, which cancelled out Tim Cahill's opener for Everton.

The draw nevertheless left Arsenal five points adrift of Aston Villa, the side currently occupying the fourth and final qualifying spot for Europe's elite competition.

"A point is never enough because you always play for three but it was a difficult game and I maintain that Everton are as big a threat for us as Aston Villa," insisted Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.

Yossi Benayoun put Liverpool ahead at Wigan four minutes before half-time. Wigan dominated after the break but Liverpool looked like they would hold out before Jason Koumas went down under an unnecessary challenge from Lucas Leiva.

Mido, signed on loan from Middlesbrough until the end of the season, stepped up and smashed the spot-kick past Jose Reina.

"We had control of the game and we didn't kill it," Benitez complained. "When you are top of the table you know that every single game is really important so when you lose two points you have to be disappointed,

"But we have an important game on Sunday (against Chelsea) and if we play like we played in the first half we can beat anyone."

A double from Salomon Kalou gave Chelsea their win over Middlesbrough and set up what the Blues' assistant manager, Ray Wilkins, billed as a "massive game" at Liverpool on Sunday.

"Over the past couple of years, we've had some fantastic games with them," Wilkins added. "I'm sure this will be the same."

Blackburn came from two goals down to rescue a point against local rivals Bolton with Benni McCarthy making amends for a missed penalty by notching the equaliser.

Matt Taylor and Kevin Davies had put Bolton 2-0 ahead at the break. Stephen Warnock pulled a goal back in the 66th-minute and McCarthy ultimately rescued a point despite having a penalty saved by Bolton goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen.

Brazilian forward Robinho put off-field worries to one side to set up Shaun Wright-Phillips for Manchester City's opening goal in a 2-1 win over Newcastle.

Questioned by police on Tuesday over an alleged sexual assault, Robinho was named in the starting line-up and rewarded the faith of manager Mark Hughes with the pass that cued up Wright-Phillips to score after 17 minutes.

Newcastle's cause was not helped by the loss of Michael Owen, who limped off midway through the first half, and Craig Bellamy, making his debut for City against one of his former clubs, made sure of the three points with a left-foot drive 13 minutes from time.

Andy Carroll pulled a goal back for Newcastle but they never looked like salvaging a point.

West Ham extended their unbeaten run to seven matches by beating Hull 2-0 with goals either side of half-time from David Di Michele and Carlton Cole.


  • Man4Life - 2009-01-29 07:44

    I actually convinced myself that this will be a hot title fight, but stupid me gave liverpool to much credit. To think that they gone and lost it themselves, lucas causing a unnecessary penality, rafa making defensive changes. Its time for them to accept that they are choking....maybe next season liverpool, this season will be where it belongs, at Old Trafford

  • Mulocha MN - 2009-01-29 08:39

    The tittle for this year will definately go to Mancherster United with their squad which allows them to use any player, but still get the results.United are also boosted by their exprienced coach who has the sigth to use players which other coaches can not use effectively.

  • RyanGiggs - 2009-01-29 08:40

    Fergie was slated when he said the pressure was getting to Liverfools. Last nights result proves the point as pool buckled to pressure in a game they had to win to keep up and theres more pressure in a do or die game against chelsea sunday, and would it be any surprise if they fold...again. How many draws in recent games? 4 or 10? As it stands we 5 points clear, count em 2 points plus a game in hand equals FIVE. Rafa jinxed their season the minute he took on Fergie. Roflmao.

  • Puddlian for life - 2009-01-29 08:46

    I can't believe this from Liverpool. So dissapointing - if they don't beat Chelsea on Sunday I am going to stop following their season as they won't deserve to win the title.

  • Nazeem - 2009-01-29 09:12

    The best forecastor of the future is history... So true with reference to Liverpool... Man United is unquestionably THE best football team in history, led by the best manager in football history. Accept it as resistance is futile....

  • RyanGiggs - 2009-01-29 09:24

    Why does Rafa always keep a notepad and pencil when his team plays? Because he is teaching them how to draw. Lmao. Rafa btw is fuming after the draw calling it a "crazy" second half but refused to explain further and left the comment hanging. Is Bernie on the verge of a nervous breakdown? Look on his face after the game was priceless.

  • Anonymous User - 2009-01-29 11:18

    Nazeem, if that's the case, 'Pool will win the title, coz' they STILL are the MOST SUCESSFUL English club of ALL TIME. Yes, ManUre could EQUAL the domestic record this season if Rafa keeps playing the likes of Lucas & Kuyt (as a winger), but they will not beat it. I don't understand why he took off Stevie G & Torres - your 2 best players when you r only 1-0 up ?! Get the result 1st, then worry about Sunday !

  • Bob - 2009-01-29 11:57

    Leave Rafa alone - he's doing his level best to lose this season by holding a master class in art rather than football. He keeps preventing Torres from playing 90 minutes, and ALWAYS decides that 1-0 is a good result. The only time Liverpool have ever looked like title contenders was when they played terrible football in the first half, went behind, and then won. Now they play great first half and try to defend, which is just dumb. They should have won every game since the one before the draw at the Emirates, and instead they only beat bottom of the log Newcastle.

  • Nazeem - 2009-01-29 12:07

    True Anonymous user @11:18am, but my reference is to more recent history.. I will not deny that 'pool has won more titles, but I hasten to add, in breaking every other record, Man Utd will break Liverpools on premier title wins.. That you can bank on!

  • kop faithful for life - 2009-01-29 12:14

    RyanGiggs, your views just shows how narrow minded utd supporter you are.think you need to sprey some Q20 in yr ear to get your brain working again,like how giggs sprays it in his knee caps SIR BILL SHANKLEY WAS THE BEST nt MR FERGIE.......season is not over,no doubt utd are the favourites, remember the ball is round,you never know what could happen....

  • Nazeem - 2009-01-29 16:40

    kop faithful for life @12:14pm, clearly your juvenile Q20 comments are indicative of your childlike thinking.. How old are you?? 7?? My 4 year old has more intelligent opinions than you.. Give credit where it is due.. Man Utd are the best, as demonstrated by the best management decisions by their leader, SIR Alex Ferguson!! As For Ryan Giggs, what he has forgotten about football and captaincy skill, the likes of Gerrard etc, are only getting to grips with now... I guess it is true what they say.... Jealousy does make one nasty... P.S. As for the season not being over, I think it is for Liverpool.. Start with a bang end with a fizzle....

  • RyanGiggs - 2009-01-29 21:45

    Kop i have tons of Q20 i'l lend u sum to numb the pain when Fools crash and burn after yet another trophyless season. Q20 is a miracle spray, was in instrumental in the vital role played in several of the goals in the West Brom thrashing..and a new contract. As for Fergie his record speaks for itself. "narrow minded views?" well here are the facts: 3 consecutive draws, 4 in all comp. 7 draws in the last 10 games add this to only two quality players plus a schizo manager and the only logical view is that poolboys have no chance in hell of winning the title.

  • Nazeem - 2009-01-30 14:43

    AMEN Brother RyanGiggs, AMEN!!! :-) Man UTD FOREVER!!!

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