After a 2-week break, the Premier League continues its full slate of weekend games when Liverpool visits St. Andrews Ground to take on Birmingham City. Kickoff for this one is Sunday at 11:00 AM ET.
Just a few years ago, a match between Liverpool and Birmingham City would have been easy to call as a Liverpool victory, that is no longer the case. While Liverpool has continued to struggle, Birmingham City has quietly become a solid Premiership side. They finished 9th in the standings last season, and although they are not a championship contender, they have become one the Premiership’s more consistent sides. Although Birmingham City is not overwhelming in any one area, they produce a solid overall effort. This could prove to be enough on Sunday against a Liverpool side who continues to face more and more problems. Birmingham City could be hurt by the absence of striker Kevin Phillips, who has been dealing with a thigh injury and isn’t expected back in the lineup for at least 2 more weeks. However, Birmingham should be okay, as they have scored 2 goals in each of their first three games despite the absence of Phillips.
Liverpool is currently in 13th place and desperate to get back among the elite. Last season was optimistically viewed by many as nothing more than one bad season for Liverpool. Unfortunately, they seem to have picked up this season right were they left off. They have continued to struggle with some of the same injuries to key players that they did last season. The biggest concern continues to be striker Fernando Torres, who just can’t seem to get healthy and back in form. To make matters worse, it’s been confirmed that Dirk Kuyt, one of the few Liverpool players who has remained a consistent contributor on the field, will be out for at least 4 weeks due to a shoulder injury. This is all on top of the fact that Liverpool sold their strongest midfield presence, Argentine international Javier Mascherano, to Barcelona. Rather than getting stronger, Liverpool seems to be getting noticeably weaker in all areas of their team. While they still are under performing given the talent they have, it is looking more and more likely that Liverpool, in its current form, is simply not a legitimate contender for the championship and the squad is not as good as it was thought to be.
Sunday’s meeting should prove to be very interesting. Liverpool is desperate to prove that the team is not as bad as it has looked, while Birmingham continues to quietly earn positive results. Liverpool will miss the presence of Kuyt and Mascherano, although Birmingham City doesn’t have the personnel to really make Liverpool pay for their absences. Torres has not had a good start to the season for Liverpool, but this match up might just be what he needs to get him going. While Birmingham City has scored 6 goals through their first three games, they have allowed 5. Birmingham favors a more open style of play, which could lead to this one turning into a high-scoring game.
Both Bodog and Bookmaker have the over-under for this one at 2½. Bettors should definitely take the over in this one. Although Liverpool should be at least a slight favorite in this one, it’s too close to call. That, along with the fact that the teams are an even pick going into the match, doesn’t give picking a winner good value. Instead, take the draw, available on Bodog at +225.