Saturday, 10 April 2010

Birmingham preview

Our first game since our ascension to pole position last weekend. We can no longer tell ourselves that we are anything other than favourites for fourth, or play the low expectations game or deploy the 'typical City' card. This means that the games feel slightly different, particularly at home. We need to beat Birmingham City tomorrow and we are expected to. The problem is that it won't necessarily be that easy. Birmingham are very well organised side who have exceeded their own expectations this season. There are times this season when playing against well organised sides at Eastlands we have struggled to create chances. Fortunately, the quality of Carlos Tévez and Emmanuel Adebayor usually bails us out. But until it does the result looks in the balance and we tense up. That said, under Roberto Mancini we've won home games against Stoke, Blackburn, Portsmouth, Bolton and Wigan, which is better than Mark Hughes in these sorts of matches.

I don't think these stats are always helpful but Birmingham don't have a great record at Eastlands. They've come here for four league games, we've won three and there was one draw. Their last visit was that 1-0 win in October 2007, the last game of Eriksson-era innocent optimism before that illusion-shattering 6-0 thumping we got at Stamford Bridge. The other two wins (3-0 and 4-1) were both under Stuart Pearce in 2005, and included goals by David Sommeil, Bradley Wright-Phillips and two from Antoine Sibierski.

In terms of selection, I'm anticipating just one change from the team that played at Turf Moor. Sylvinho has an injury and so I imagine that Javi Garrido will start. Pablo Zabaleta is still suspended, Micah Richards and Stephen Ireland aren't fit and I guess Nigel de Jong will start on the bench again to ensure his participation in the Manchester United/Arsenal double-header:

It should be enough. Birmingham are good. But we tend to win these games. I'm sure they'll sit deep and defend well. But I just back Tévez to carve something out. I'm going for an uninspiring 2-0.


wizzballs said...

Exactly how I feel about this game. This is unlikely to be an easy game or a sparkling performance, as Birmingham pack the midfield and cut out the space in front of the centre halves.... the space in which, last Adebayor, Johnson and Tevez were able to recieve the ball, turn, and wreak havoc. But we are strong favourites to secure a crucial three points. It's time to take care of things in a business-like manner, so we can approach the Derby without any additional pressure on the team.

pjdemers said...

Adam Johnson's contibution could be vital as his dribbling skills will be sorely needed to break down a stingy Birmingham defence. I'm worried about Patrick Vieira as Birmingham will look to close City down very quickly. While he still has a good footballing brain I don't think he has the legs for this type of match and I'm concerned Brimingham's midfield will look to double team him as his lack of speed could prove to be a liability