Liverpool

Birmingham vs Liverpool Player Ratings

Reina put in a Man of the Match performance

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.

Birmingham City

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

Subs:

Nikola Zigic (on for McFadden, 90)   6   No time to make an impact

Liverpool

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

Subs:

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 expected

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