If you didn’t watch this game, the scoreline might lead you to believe it was a poor one; neither side, these days at least, exactly have a penchant for playing wonderful football.
It proved to be, however, an enjoyable encounter. The start might have been a little quiet, but it proved to be end to end stuff in certain short bursts. Of the potential debutants, only Liverpool’s Paul Konchesky started, and had a fairly tough time up against Stephen Carr and Sebastian Larsson on Birmingham’s right.
Ultimately, Konchesky was part of a sloppy back four, who had a torrid time against Birmingham’s crosses and set pieces. Skrtel and Carragher were caught out more than a few times in this respect, and only the heroics of Pepe Reina, who put his midweek international nightmare behind him with a couple of excellent saves, saved Liverpool from losing this one.
Ben Foster, conversely, had very little to do up against an out-of-sorts Liverpool attack. Fernando Torres is yet to regain form, and fitness, after a disappointing World Cup, and once more looked a little isolated up front. Steven Gerrard did his best to rally the troops, but was restricted to long range shots that didn’t come off for him on the day.
Birmingham, as might be expected of Alex McLeish’s side, defended very well, but it was their excellent defensive partnership of Roger Johnson and Scott Dann who missed two of their best chances: Johnson firing over from a Barry Ferguson cross, and Dann heading into the ground and over from a free kick.
This, for me, is by no means a bad result for Liverpool. St. Andrews was something of a fortress last season, and it’s a trend that looks set to continue: they’re uneaten in 17 league games at home now. Ordinarily, this would be a result for Birmingham; but given some of the chances they missed, they might’ve hoped for all three points.
Ben Foster 6 Did what was required of him
Stephen Carr 7 Linked well with Larsson down the right
Roger Johnson 6 Solid defensively, but might’ve had a goal
Scott Dann 7 Continues an excellent partnership with Johnson
Liam Ridgewell 7 Solid, but offers little going forward
Sebastian Larsson 7 Excellent crossing, as usual
Lee Bowyer 6 A little quiet in midfield
Barry Ferguson 7 Decent game
Craig Gardner 8 Impressive, battling performance. Foiled by Reina
James McFadden 5 Disappointing, very knackered in the second half
Cameron Jerome 8 Held the line very well, another Reina victim
Nikola Zigic (on for McFadden, 90) 6 No time to make an impact
Pepe Reina 8 A couple of truly wonderful saves
Glen Johnson 5 Unusually ineffective going forward
Paul Konchesky 6 Tough task on debut, dealt with it well enough
Jamie Carragher 6 Struggled with pace of Jerome
Martin Skrtel 6 Dealt with aerial threat poorly
Maxi Rodriguez 5 Struggled to get into the game
Milan Jovanovic 6 Decent, but the ball rarely saw the flanks
Lucas Leiva 6 Frustrated after taking a couple of kicks in first half
Christian Poulsen 6 Covered for Johnson when he got forward, but a little sloppy
Steven Gerrard 7 Tried hard enough, but disappointing by his high standards
Fernando Torres 6 Poor, barely in the game
Daniel Agger (on for Konchesky, 78) 6 Still doesn’t look comfortable at left back
Raul Meireles (on for Lucas, 76) 6 Got forward more than might’ve been expectedLike what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!