ROBERTO Martinez admitted the first-half loss of Ben Watson was a massive contributing factor to Wigan Athletic’s defeat at Liverpool.
Latics were giving as good as they were getting in a relatively even opening half prior to Watson having to be helped off the field.
The home side were creating the better chances but Wigan had taken the sting out of the game with some lovely possession football that had the Merseysiders chasing shadows for periods.
Indeed, one particular move saw Latics retain the ball for a couple of minutes, resulting in Watson’s strike from the edge of the penalty area flying inches over Pepe Reina’s crossbar.
Latics managed to remain on level terms to the break, but the second half was one-way traffic from the minute Luis Suarez opened the scoring within two minutes of the restart.
Suarez quickly made it two with a deadly finish before Jose Enrique completed the scoring, and Martinez feels fatigue from the most recent international break again cost his side any chance of coming back into the game.
“The injury affected us too much because I thought we started quite sharp and controlled the game in the first half,” the Wigan boss assessed.
“I thought we were the team who looked like being a real threat and I thought we stopped Liverpool completely.
“We looked very comfortable, and the only aspect we were not happy with is that we didn’t have much joy in the final third after the domination in possession.
“We weren’t as sharp as we usually are and that made a big difference, because when you are on top in a game you have to be able to score.
“The positive first half shows that we are ready to go anywhere in the Premier League and be ourselves.
“Unfortunately in the second half we suffered too much from the international fixtures.
“The first goal we gave it away – it was one of those days as nothing went our way.
“The second goal went in and the third goal came from a throw-in which should have been our ball. We attracted all sorts of bad decisions and bad luck. There were a few things that didn’t go our way when we were still in a position to get back into the game, but we have to focus on our performance rather than things that are out of our control.”
While Martinez praised Suarez’s finishing, he was not happy with what he considered a second-half stamp on David Jones, who had come on for Watson, which he felt possibly merited a red card.
“The first finish is probably the real clinical one and a sign of a top player,” he added. “He was very fortunate because it was a stamp which the referee didn’t see.
“That wasn’t the sign of a top player.”