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Birmingham thoughts

Whilst defeats inevitably brings with it the criticism and analysis a side faces, conversely, can draws mask the problems that a side has?

Yet another point yesterday, and in the context of the game with the penalty save (more of a miss?) and wonderful and brave double save at the end of the first half from Shay Given, it can be viewed as a point gained given that we again avoided what could have been a defeat.

But four consecutive draws means that we have dropped eight points out of the lst twelve and despite Liverpool's wretched run we have been unable to capitalise and establish a foothold in the top four.

The defense answered the criticism that it has faced recently, Kompany and Lescott solid enough in dealing with the lively - if lacking genuine potency - pairing of Benitez and Jerome. After the opening fifteen minutes when we struggled to cope with a Birmingham side who came right at us, we had the better of the possession and territory for the remainder yet failed to create a real genuine opportunity.

Too often Roque Santa Cruz was isolated from Carlos Tevez, giving the impression we were operating with just a lone striker (and an unfit looking one at that) whilst Craig Bellamy strugged to get much reward. In fact Shaun Wright-Phillips aside we offered very little threat going forward - making it more surprising that Ireland and Petrov were held back for so long, particularly given that Gareth Barry was struggling to impose himself on the game and as redundant as an attacking option.

Emmanuel Adebayor was obviously missed but the game today highlighted that whilst we possess an abundance of attacking options - and very good ones too - we perhaps lack a Torres or a Rooney type player who have the ability to conjoure something up when it is needed and the team is struggling to create.

This is not to dwell on the negatives too much though. There was no shortage of endeavour, or work ethic in the performance and it is a fair argument to suggest there have been occasions when we would have lost games such as this so there is a clear and tangible progression that the side is making.

Thinking ahead though, there is a very real argument to switch back to a 4-3-3 from the more rigid 4-4-2 we have been fielding in recent weeks. Whilst taking away some of the width that we have at present, this would see the front man less isolated and also, more crucially bring in either Stephen Ireland or Michael Johnson as the additional midfielder with more licence to supplement the attack whilst keeping a solid pair in the middle.

Perhaps this would ensure we are playing with more attacking threat and as a more cohesive unit, hopefully to regain some of the early season momentum missing from our game at present.