the bench after missing the Sunderland clash through illness.
The Reds started out in a 4-2-3-1 set-up, with Michael Carrick and Darron Gibson sitting deeper and allowing the in-form Anderson to push on, while Ryan Giggs started on the right, Wayne Rooney took up a position on the left and Berbatov was stationed up front on his own.
As Birmingham chose a defensive 4-5-1 system, United did much of the pressing and had most of the ball in the first fifteen minutes. The Reds’ first effort on goal came from Rooney, who shifted in-field and fired a shot wide of former United goalkeeper Ben Foster’s post. Rooney came into the game without a league goal since August, although he has shown form playing deep behind Berbatov.
On 18 minutes, Giggs hit a post with a misdirected right-foot cross that deceived Foster. After getting a fingertip to the ball, the keeper was able to share a wry smile with his former team-mate, indicating the Welshman's lack of goalscoring intent. But United’s early domination dissipated like the pre-match fog, and a flurry of tackles and bookings told the tale of a game that became a midfield scrap.
Birmingham put men behind the ball, but Alex McLeish attended United’s victory over Sunderland and knew not to allow his opponents space. His Blues side didn’t just sit back to soak up pressure, they actively pursued the men in red to stifle the visitors' attacking threat. Carrick and Anderson, so crucial to kick-starting forward forays, were never