Can you believe we haven't beaten these guys in seven tries? Rafa never managed it in the league, and September's meeting probably was the cause of several suicides across the world. After all, if your life is so empty that you sat through all of it, what point was there in going on?
A thin Liverpool squad is even more beat up now to take on what at least will be a resolute Brummie side. Carragher can't possibly play, though he might have to be chained to something to not. But considering the severity of the dome-dent he took on Sunday, you'd be risking some pretty serious things to send him out there again. This probably means Kyrgiakos comes on to thrash about for a full 90 minutes, but I think we'd all love to see Danny Wilson get a shot at his more natural central position. But considering that the Reds have no choice but to put the neophytes Flanagan and Robinson on at both fullback positions, it is unlikely that Kenny is going to opt for more inexperience. Lucas and Spearing will have their hands full trying to cover for three of the four in defense.
Up front, Andy Carroll is 50-50 to make the match, and will not be risked if he's not 100% one has to guess. If he doesn't make it, Kuyt likely slides up front with what I guess the still mysteriously rated Jonjoy Shelvey coming into midfield. Has he completed a pass yet this year? I get it, 19 and all, but a sign of being even able to stand upright for an entire 90 would be an improvement to me. The rest of the side is pretty simple, as Spearing and Lucas support Meireles while Suarez partners someone up front.
BIrmingham have their own injury concerns. Zigic, Martins, and Dann are all out, as might McFadden be. Likely what the Reds will see is a packed midfield of Sebastien Larsson, Keith Fahey, and Barry Ferguson setting up trenches that Pool will have to break down. Alex Hleb was set up behind Cameron Jerome against Chelsea, and that's probably the plan here. If they only deploy one striker, than Menelaus's lack of pace shouldn't be quite as exposed.
Birmingham definitely suffered a hangover after claiming their first trophy in a dog's age when Arsenal simply handed them the Carling Cup in a fashion that only they can -- i.e. unfathomable and gut-busting hilariously. They didn't win in March. Things have turned around a little in April, with wins over Bolton and the falling down the elevator shaft Sunderland. They're 15th, five points clear.
If they're going to score, it'll probably come from their wide players in Craig Gardner and Lee Bowyer. But they aren't tricky, or all that quick, and won't be the test for Flanagan and Robinson that Nasri and Walcott were. Where it could get tricky is those two are going to have to get forward to help break down a bunkered down Brum side, and they could leave space behind.
Liverpool don't do all that well when they have to be the antagonists in a match. The last time it happened really is when they couldn't crack Braga at home. WBA had a majority of possession, as did Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. Wigan also couldn't be beaten at Anfield when Liverpool were the aggressors. Hopefully they've improved upon this. We shall find out.