Fortress Anfield stormed yet again as visitors to Liverpool lose fear factor
22:49 GMT, 25 March 2012
Saturday's defeat by Wigan means Liverpool have won just five of their 15 home games in the Premier League this season – their worst home record since 1953. But it was the manner of the defeat that was as worrying as the result.
Four years ago, Liverpool appeared to be headed for a ruinous defeat against the same opponents but extricated themselves thanks to a barnstorming comeback when Dirk Kuyt and Albert Riera scored in the last 10 minutes to secure a 3-2 win. History is littered with examples of Liverpool salvaging improbable situations.
Fast forward to the present day, though, and the picture has changed dramatically.
Red faced: Liverpool slumped to a 2-1 home defeat against Wigan
When Wigan were protecting a 2-1 lead with 10 minutes to go on Saturday, the outcome – unlike four years ago – was never in doubt.
Why is Anfield no longer a fortress then A number of reasons.
For starters, Liverpool don't have a cutting edge. They have only scored 19 times in their 15 home games in the Barclays Premier League and a paltry record of five wins is their lowest since at this stage of a season since 1953.
Then there is the atmosphere. It used to be said during the club's glory years that The Kop would 'suck the ball over the line' when Liverpool turned the screw but rarely, if ever, does the stadium hum with that broiling noise that launched a thousand comebacks. Didn't Wigan's fans keep asking 'where's your famous atmosphere' Yes.
Challenge: Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish (left) is under increasing scrutiny
To give an example of how quiet it was, Jamie Carragher could easily be heard shouting directions, while a conversation Kuyt had with an assistant referee was also audible in the stands.
'It is still a fearful place,' argued exultant Wigan manager Roberto Martinez. 'In world football it has a unique tradition. The moment you starting thinking about where you are playing, the fear is there.'
Kenny Dalglish has often said Liverpool have been unlucky at Anfield. Was that the case again Absolutely not. Wigan keeper Ali Al Habsi never had a saved to make after Gary Caldwell put the visitors in front for a second time, leaving Dalglish to claim his side were lacklustre due to a combination of playing three games in six days and a growing injury list.
But this slump can be put down to them lacking quality. While key players Lucas, Glen Johnson and Craig Bellamy have been missed, many supporters have lost faith in a number of last summer's expensive recruits.
16million midfielder Jordan Henderson, for one, is failing to win over The Kop, while Andy Carroll – who puzzlingly started on the bench – made little impact when replacing Henderson.
So where do they go from here Worryingly for Dalglish, Liverpool could find themselves in ninth place by the time they face Newcastle next Sunday.
If the situation is to change next season, more signings will need to be made. But on this evidence, Liverpool stand minimal chance of attracting genuine quality.