St. Andrew’s, Birmingham
12 Sep, 2010 – 20:30 IST
Liverpool travel to St. Andrews to take on Birmingham City in a fixture that has traditionally proved to be a stumbling block for the Reds. The corresponding fixture last year has been steeped in infamy for one of the most bizarre substitutions carried out by Benitez which left even the Liverpool Captain flabbergasted.
Liverpool are not unaware of the difficulty that this particular fixture poses. The Merseysiders have been unable to beat the Blues in the league since 2004. The two teams have always served up an even and exciting contest and all their last six Premier League fixtures have produced draws. Indeed, a closer look back shows that the nearest win in the League between these two belonged to Birmingham when they did an unthinkable double over Liverpool in 2004-05.
Birmingham have already gone about proving that their last season’s top half finish was no fluke, with an impressive start to the season which sees them sit at the sixth position in the table. That tally could have been more impressive had they not allowed Bolton to snatch a point after they were 2-0 up at The Reebok. Liverpool’s run-in on the contrary can hardly be termed as comfortable, although the quality of opposition faced by both teams so far has been vastly different.
It’s also interesting to note that McLeish’s men are on a 16 game unbeaten streak at St.Andrews, currently the longest unbeaten home streak. And the sides they have managed to hold on to at their fortress include Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea,, Tottenham Hotspur, Everton, Arsenal and Liverpool.
Both sides have had a flurry of late activity in the transfer window with Birmingham getting as many as four players on the very last day. However, the most notable of them, Alexander Hleb, is set to miss out this match following a leg injury that he acquired while playing for Belarus. Striker Kevin Phillips (calf), and defender Stuart Parnaby (hamstring) are also likely to miss out.
The big blow for Liverpool will be the absence of their never tiring Dutchman Dirk Kuyt, who injured his shoulder while attempting a bicycle kick in training midweek with the Dutch squad. Joe Cole will also miss the trip as he serves the last of his suspensions. Fabio Aurelio’s niggling Achilles problem means that new signing Paul Konchesky could be given a start. Raul Meireless will also be looking for his start as a Liverpool man, although he might have to settle with a place on the bench.
Possible Starting Line-Ups
Hogdson might be tempted go with an attacking 4-4-2 formation, like he did in the away game at Manchester City but with Ngog having just recovered from an injury; he’ll field a 4-3-2-1 in all likelihood, with Torres alone upfront.
Liverpool FC- Reina, Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel, Konchesky, Poulsen, Lucas, Babel, Gerrard, Jovanovic, Torres.
Birmingham City- Foster, Carr, Ridgewell, Dann, Johnson, Larsson, Gardner, Bowyer, Ferguson, McFadden, Jerome.
Birmingham City 1-1 Liverpool
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch Out For
Fernando Torres (Liverpool) The only realistic threat that Liverpool possess in the striking department, Fernando Torres still carries the club on his shoulders in terms of goal scoring responsibility. The absence of Joe Cole further increases the reliance on him to produce one of his trademark genius moments to carry Liverpool through.