Saturday, September 22, 2007

Pennant Pinpointed As Reds Dangerman

Birmingham boss Steve Bruce is wary of the threat posed by winger Jermaine Pennant when he takes his side to Liverpool on Saturday.

Bruce handed Pennant a career lifeline when he signed him from Arsenal and stood by him after he was jailed for motoring offences.

Pennant's form for Birmingham earned him a dream move to Liverpool last summer and Bruce said: "He seems to have knuckled down and did well to get a move to such a top club as Liverpool.

"He appears to have behaved himself since joining Liverpool and made himself into a really good player.

"No-one doubts his ability. He has taken on added responsibility and I felt that in the European Cup final he was their best player.

"Going to prison certainly gave him a wake-up call.

"He was a fantastic player for us and he is a genuinely a good kid.

"After leaving Birmingham he gave me a Liverpool shirt but it does not go down too well in my house," added former Manchester United skipper Bruce.

Bruce believes he has got a more than able replacement for Pennant in the shape of Sebastian Larsson.

"We sold Jermaine to Liverpool for £8million and we brought in Seb Larsson from Arsenal for £1million to replace him," said Bruce. "Seb has been a great replacement for us and he has been a fantastic signing.

"He scored nine goals last season and played a key role in us winning promotion.

"He probably had his best game of the season in the 1-0 win over Bolton last Saturday.

"He is keen to prove himself in the Premier League and he is turning out to be a great replacement for Pennant."

Preview: LiverpooL vs Birmingham City

Liverpool Look To Get Back To Winning Ways When Birmingham Visit Anfield.

The last two results have been rather forgettable for the Reds, not because of the points amounted, but instead due to the abject displays of the team. Rafa Benitez gambled by resting Gerrard, Torres, Babel and Kuyt at Pompey away and it didn’t pay off. The Reds were maybe lucky to walk away with a draw.

No one would argue with the idea that players need to be rested at times, but maybe Benitez needs to pick the games in which he does this more carefully. Pompey are formidable at home, they have already held Manchester United to a draw on their own patch and Liverpool have struggled to beat them at Fratton Park in the past.

Birmingham will look to build on their first home victory of the season in which they disposed of Bolton. They will also look to secure some points from Anfield to avoid getting dragged into any relegation battle this season. Steve Bruce will be fairly happy with the start they have made to the season, twelfth position is indeed a decent position for them to occupy in the league.

The Reds boast an impressive record, and are yet to concede a league goal from open play so far this campaign. Birmingham lead Liverpool by three wins to two in the Premier League head-to-head standings. The Blues have never failed to score at Anfield in the Premier League.



Sep 18 Porto (a, CL) DREW 1-1

Sep 15 Portsmouth (a) DREW 0-0

Sep 1 Derby (h) WON 6-0

Aug 28 Toulouse (h) WON 4-0

Aug 25 Sunderland (a) WON 2-0


Sep 15 (h) Bolton WON 1-0

Sep 1 (a) Middlesbrough LOST 2-0

Aug 28 (h) Hereford WON 2-1

Aug 25 (a) Derby WON 2-1

Aug 18 (h) West Ham LOST 1-0



Agger and Alonso are out for six weeks with fractured metatarsals. Harry Kewell has not fully recovered from his hamstring injury and misses out. Sissoko returns to the squad after missing the trip to Portugal. Lucas can expect a place on the bench.

Possible Starting XI: Reina, Arbeloa, Hyypia, Carragher, Riise, Benayoun, Pennant, Gerrard, Mascherano, Torres, Kuyt


Birmingham skipper Damien Johnson will not be risked despite coming through a reserve game after a hamstring injury. That means the Blues are set to name an unchanged team, with Olivier Kapo playing in the hole off the strikers.

Possible Starting XI: Taylor, Queudrue, Ridgewell, Djourou, Nafti, Muamba, Larsson, Jerome, Mcsheffrey, Kapo


Liverpool – Jermaine Pennant will look to impress against his old club and he will also look to put in a good performance after his dismissal in midweek.

Birmingham – Olivier Kapo has settled in really fast and has already notched up a couple of goals from midfield. The former French international has plenty of pedigree and will be a threat.


Liverpool 3 – 0 Birmingham

Liverpool are dominant at home and I can’t see Birmingham taking anything away from Anfield. The defence has been very miserly this season, only conceding goals from penalties.