Ferguson fuels Birmingham resistance
Birmingham City 2 Everton 2
Monday 15 March 2010
Arsène Wenger be warned. Amid the talk of Arsenal's run-in being the easiest of the title contenders, their next away opponents have been casually bracketed with Burnley, Hull and Wolves as a source of potentially easy pickings. But Birmingham City, as their manager Alex McLeish noted after their fightback against Everton, are a team who never give up.
St Andrew's has not witnessed a home defeat since September. Wenger will find a side unrecognisable, in character and quality as well as personnel, from the relegation-bound outfit whose stoppage-time equaliser added insult to the shocking injury Eduardo suffered at Birmingham two years ago.
On that occasion, James McFadden's spot-kick twisted the knife for Arsenal. This time, another Scot, Barry Ferguson, is a more likely thorn in their side. The national captain under McLeish, Ferguson's capacity to retain possession and select a pass were instrumental in Birmingham's recovery here and made him a close rival to the more flamboyant Mikel Arteta as the outstanding performer.
"Barry took charge," McLeish said succinctly. Craig Gardner, too, made an impact even before his crisply-taken equaliser, belying the fact that he was poorly 24 hours earlier. "I told him: 'Look, you can't let us down. If you're going to collapse after 20 minutes, it's a problem'," McLeish said. "He took a while to get into it, but he did, like Lee Bowyer, who had also been ill."
Everton, whose quest for Europa League qualification must continue without Landon Donovan after the American's return to California yesterday, could vouch for the threat awaiting Arsenal. They were cruising after goals by Victor Anichebe and Yakubu. David Moyes thought they had scored six in the 5-1 rout of Hull and it looked as if the manager may need a calculator to keep track of another spree.
Instead, Cameron Jerome cut the deficit and Gardner earned Birmingham a deserved point. "Davie [Moyes] must have thought, 'they told me this was a hard place to come but it's easy', until we got the proverbial finger out," McLeish said. "This is a team that never gives up."
Birmingham City (4-4-2): Hart; Carr, Johnson, Dann, Ridgewell; Gardner (Larsson, 59), Ferguson, Bowyer, Fahey; Jerome, Benitez (McFadden, 72). Substitutes not used: Taylor (gk), Phillips, Michel, Queudrue, Tainio.
Everton (4-1-4-1): Howard; Neville, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Heitinga; Anichebe (Gosling, 79), Cahill (Rodwell, 76) Arteta, Pienaar; Yakubu (Donovan, 67). Substitutes not used: Nash (gk), Hibbert, Yobo, Bilyaletdinov.
Referee: L Probert (Wiltshire).
Booked: Birmingham Bowyer. Everton Yakubu.
Man of the match: Arteta.
filmWith more than 70% of early films lost, archivists are turning to science to preserve the few examples that remain
NFL fans were so loud during a match that their celebrations registered as a minor earthquake
Tyre firm aimed to show how their tyres would perform in ‘unexpected’ conditions
Latest in Sport
Arsenal v Hull: Arsene Wenger ignores the sceptics and tells Gunners to seize Premier League title chance
Jose Mourinho believes Manchester City, not Arsenal, offer greatest challenge to Chelsea title hopes
Premier League: Arsenal beware - this is the tightest season in 11 years
Manchester United v Everton: David Moyes keeps lid on emotions ahead of Everton's visit to Old Trafford
Arsenal v Hull: Bacary Sagna ruled out with hamstring injury while Arsene Wenger denies Alvaro Morata agreement
- 1 John Williams' Stoner wins Waterstones Book of the Year
- 2 The hardwired difference between male and female brains could explain why men are 'better at map reading'
- 3 Is this the scariest advert ever? Japanese tyre commercial comes with its own disclaimer and health warning
- 4 Food poverty in UK has reached level of 'public health emergency', warn experts
- 5 I’m sure Kate Moss doesn't care about posing for Playboy. But I do