Maxi (7), (66), (73), Kuyt (23), Cole (86)
Birmingham City 0
Did anyone seriously expect this result?
We always seem to drop points against Birmingham. Add to that the fact that Andy Carroll was sidelined and we’d bought in Maxi who hadn’t played for us in ages. Nonetheless it’s a testament to the improvement we are making, in terms of play and spirit that we despatched Birmingham in the manner that Dalglish sides often used to do during his first period as manager. Slowly things are coming into shape and I guess, if we repeat this sort of form to the end of the season, so to will the possibility of the European spot that many had written off?
This was all about the team and how it had improved however, you can’t go far without mentioning Maxi Rodríguez. Said Kenny
“I don’t think Maxi’s a direct replacement for Andy Carroll but he’s got more goals than Andy in that one performance”
True enough and add to that a goal from Joe Cole and we see encouraging signs that when we are required to reshuffle we can still make a decent fist of things. Kenny kept faith with Flanagan and Robinson while Jamie Carragher returned after his knock at The Emirates. Kuyt moved up to take Carroll’s place and Maxi was drafted into midfield.
None of the five goals we scored were candidates for “Goal of the Season” let alone “The Month” however, every one them showed the importance of determination, following up, playing percentages and being in the right place at the right time.
The first, after a good start which had us swarming around the Birmingham area, saw Spearing’s shot spilled by Foster. Maxi followed up and had the easy task to knock in the rebound. A good early start built on by Kuyt. Meireles’, flick from Reina’s clearance, set up Suarez whose run on goal was checked. However, at least three Birmingham defenders failed to deal with the loose ball. Kuyt was more determined than all of them getting up from a prone position and knocking it into the bottom corner at the second attempt after Foster had saved the first effort.
The blow to Birmingham’s defence wasn’t helped by Foster having to go off injured and from then on you felt there was only one winner. The two goals increased our confidence and as a result we moved the ball around well probing for an opening. Birmingham appeared all at sea. bums, legs and other parts got in the way rather as red shirts were allowed to advance seemingly at will we even had the rare sight of Martin Skrtel trying to dribble his way the defence in the opposition box! The only effort the opposition could muster was an effort from Larsson that Reina easily dealt with.
However we had to wait until after the break for the third. .After Kuyt, from Meireles’ free kick, had gone close Skrtel set off Suarez who veered right looked up the defence, that were taken in by Kuyt’s run across the box. This left Maxi free, Suarez picked him out giving the Argentinean easy side footer for his second. The same players combined again for the fourth. Maxi ran onto Suarez’s through ball first shot was blocked by Doyle, on for Foster, Meireles couldn’t get anything on it but again Maxi was following up and made no mistake with his second attempt to secure his hat trick
He fifth underlined how out of sorts Birmingham’s defence was. Kuyt found Joe Cole on the right who cut inside and then had all day to line up his shot, think about it, line it up again, think about passing it and then having a go! His effort deflected off Ridgewell to beat Doyle at his near post.
Cole turned away sheepishly. However it is encouraging that the more this season goes on the less Reds fans have to be embarrassed about. I never thought I’d say it around Christmas but it’s a pity it’s going to end soon!
Liverpool: Reina, Carragher, Skrtel, Flanagan, Robinson (Shelvey 78), Meireles (Cole 84), Maxi (Ngog 89), Lucas, Spearing, Suarez, Kuyt Substitutes: Gulacsi, Kyrgiakos, Cole, Poulsen, Shelvey, Conor Coady, Ngog
Birmingham: Foster (Doyle 40). Carr. Johnson. Ridgewell. Jiranek. Bowyer. Larsson. Gardner (Phillips 79). Fahey. Hleb (Bentley 67). Jerome. Substitutes: Doyle, Parnaby, Davies, Bentley, Beausejour, Phillips, Derbyshire