Birmingham City 0
Again, like the last one against West Brom, this was not a performance to raise the spirits or to suggest that we are beginning to pull things together. Nothing too wrong but nothing to get excited about it’s just a bit, well….. the word, which I can’t bring myself to type begins with b and ends with an “ing” .
I guess one has to be patient. It will take time for the new players to bed down. It will take the players time to get used to a new way of playing and as a result it will take time for us it get going. We were also missing Joe Cole and Dirk Kuyt but all the same, after last season’s nightmare, I still can’t help worrying, tell me I’m being premature?
We are only four games into the season but at first hand we seem to be lacking a certain zest in midfield. I suppose you can’t complain about a draw away to the side that finished only two places below us last season, we haven’t beaten in seven league games now (nor have we lost to them) and are seventeen or so games unbeaten at home. In fairness I don’t think anyone in red would have had too many grounds for complaint had Birmingham got all the points. They took the game to us, got in our faces and were determined not to let us settle and run the game our way. Fair enough, but the worrying issue is what would we have actually done if they had laid off and let us have things our way? In the end we had Jose Reina to thank for keeping a clean sheet and, as we don’t create a great deal, a point.
Team wise it was perhaps a surprise that Raul Meireles was only given a place on the bench. Maybe it was because it was an away game meaning that a bit of caution had to be applied hence the selection of both Lucas and Poulsen? At the back Skrtel won the battle to partner Jamie meaning that Agger was on the bench as Koncheski was drafted in to make his debut in the left back slot. Up front was interesting given HRH’s recent statement saying that there is an opportunity for Babel, Ngog or even Pacheco to support Torres, none of these three were selected again possibly because it was an away game.
The first half saw us very much on the back foot as Birmingham set about peppering our goal mainly from the flanks. Bowyer’s ball from the left found Jerome whose downward header was superbly turned away past his right post by Reina. He was then at it again acrobatically nipping in front of the same Birmingham player to snuff out Larsson’s dangerous cross. Then our man completed a hat trick of “certain goal saving saves” by turning away Gardner’s header, from Carr’s cross, past his post again.
I guess this was the one positive thing to come out of the game for us. Jose’s not been having the best of times recently with errors against Arsenal and Argentina however you can’t keep a good man down and that first half spell must have done wonders for his confidence although clearly the same cannot be said for the defence who allowed the chances to be created in the first place?
For us it was slim pickings Torres scuffed one wide and Maxi might have earned us a penalty as his poor effort hit a Birmingham player on the hand but the lack of an appeal from our players suggested they, along with the referee, didn’t see it or they felt it was ball to hand.
The second half saw more of the same. Gerrard finally managed to get the ball on target but Foster wasn’t troubled. Torres, from a very tight angle, was finally woken out of his slumber, I assume it was a tiring flight from Argentina, and thrashed a shot that the keeper parried away. Perhaps a cross would have been better but by this time I’d have taken anything! In-between Birmingham were gifted another free header this time Dann was the player to fritter it away as Glen Johnson in going for the ball was lucky not give away a penalty by bringing down Roger Johnson.
We improved a little as Meireles came on and Gerrard was moved into the centre however, on this evidence if anyone was having any doubts about the fact that are going through a period of change then this might have been the game to remove them. We will make mistakes and I suspect there will be more bad and frustrating times. We shouldn’t forget the circumstances surrounding today so it may be premature but I guess we have to be patient? On this evidence it looks like it’s going to be a long slow process before we recover. In the meantime we just have to be thankful that we have a top class keeper in Jose Reina.
Birmingham: Foster, Carr, Johnson, Ridgewell, Dann, Bowyer, Larsson, Gardner, Ferguson, Jerome, McFadden (Zigic 90), Substitutes: Taylor, Murphy, Jiranek, Marcos Madera, Fahey, Derbyshire, Zigic
Liverpool: Reina, G Johnson, Konchesky (Agger 78), Carragher, Skrtel, Gerrard, Maxi,Lucas (Raul Meireles 76), C Poulsen, Torres, Jovanovic Substitutes: Jones, Agger, Kyrgiakos, Raul Meireles, Pacheco, Babel, Ngog