This weekend we came up against one of our major bogey teams; from the blue half of the Midlands. Birmingham City have been a bogey team for many years for the reds alongside teams such as Middlesborough. However unlike Boro we still struggle to beat them at Anfield. In fact when Birmingham come to mind the only truly recognisable victory for us is the famous 7-0 win at St Andrews during our victorious FA Cup campaign back in 2006.
When the teams lined up I was very sceptical about its chances against one of the league’s most overlooked teams. As always a strong looking defence with Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel and new signing Konchesky. Alongside this strong defensive line, our attacking options were the typical Gerrard and Torres combo whom everyone knows can be lethal when they’re up for it. My scepticism stemmed from our midfield. With the injury sustained by Dirk Kuyt while on international duty Maxi Rodriguez was given a start on the right. I can honestly say that I am not a fan of the little Argentinean but even I could see no alternative. Add to the mix the ever disappointing Lucas in central midfield and my enthusiasm all but died. That was until I saw the other half of the midfield. Poulsen hasn’t really played much in a red shirt but his experience should be able to keep the central channel closed and of course Milan Jovanovic out on the left. I am a fan of the big Serbian, I think his touch and general control has been impressive and certainly brought some order to the left wing which has been fairly chaotic for a few seasons now.
On to the game and during the first half I admit we looked like we should have been playing in League 2. Birmingham were cutting through us like a knife through butter. Fortunately for the reds star stopper Pepe Reina had recovered from the mental set back with Spain mid-week to deliver a man of the match performance all before half time. The pick of the saves from Pepe came when Bowyer sent a tasty cross into the box for Jerome to latch onto only for an acrobatic save that put the ball behind for a corner. Down the other end of the pitch Birmingham keeper Ben Foster was barely even seen by the TV cameras as Liverpool failed to trouble him. Once we got into the second half though Liverpool seemed to come to life as they did more in the first 30 seconds than they did in the whole first half – Gerrard’s shot pulled a save out of the previously under-utilized Foster. The second half quickly became a flurry of Liverpool attacks as it became Birmingham’s turn to defend. Liverpool haven’t beaten Birmingham since 2004 at St Andrews in the league so reds fans could be forgiven for taking this increased pressure as a sign that this might just be our year. As the match drew to a close both teams were looking very promising and you could feel that a goal would come eventually. Unfortunately it never came in time as both teams had to make do with taking a point away from the tie.
Overall not a very positive result for the reds in a fixture which fans would expect to be 3 points. More bad news for us came in the form of Paul Konchesky as he limped off the pitch during the final 10 minutes. News coming out of the club today however have hinted at the possibility of the defender being fit for Thursday night’s European clash with Steaua Bucharest at Anfield.
Finally, I’ll end on a positive note and this weeks one focuses upon our inspirational skipper Steven Gerrard. If ever anybody attempted to call his loyalty and passion into question they need only look at the last week to get their answer. Last Friday he played 90 minutes at Wembley for England, the day after he walked out at Anfield to assist in attributing one of the club’s greatest defenders, Jamie Carragher, before returning back for England duty. Add to that the fact that he began bleeding from his ear mid game but rather than going off to get treatment he preferred to stay on the pitch and soldier on. Always nice to see a player with real passion and commitment the likes of which you will only see at Liverpool FC.