Saturday 25th February 2012 – Kickoff: 1500hrs
Third placed Birmingham City will certainly be licking their proverbial lips when they welcome fourth from bottom Nottingham Forest to their St Andrews fortress on Saturday as they set their sights on all three points to close the gap on second placed Southampton.
Birmingham City have put together a fifteen match unbeaten run in all competitions which has included a creditable 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea in the Cup and a valuable away win at Barnsley in midweek with the Blues winning 3-1 to keep them in touch with the league leaders.
At home, The Blues have been impenetrable so far with an impressive home record standing at 10-6-0 23/6, and they possess the best defensive record at home in the Championship by some distance. This has been largely thanks to the defensive partnership of Curtis Davies and Steven Caldwell who have contributed to Birmingham’s ten clean sheets so far at St Andrews including the last four on the trot.
They have Marlon King (9 goals, 4 assists) back up front, along with impressive youngster Nathan Redmond (4 goals) who has chipped in with some important goals of late. Creative midfielder Chris Burke (8 goals, 11 assists) has provided the ammunition and an outlet, along with promising midfielder Jordan Mutch (4 assists).
Nottingham Forest make the short trip west on the back of just one win in their last six and just two league wins in the last fourteen Championship matches which sees them still struggling near the bottom end of the table.
However, the midweek win over Coventry City 2-0 has lifted them out of the bottom three for the time being, but this was at home against a poor Cov side who have scored only 7 goals on the road, and three points above points-deducted Portsmouth but their goal difference could be a worrying factor if level on points with their counterparts.
Forest’s away record stands at a meagre 4-1-9 12/22, and aside from Coventry City, have the lowest goals scored away from home in the league. This is a massive problem when visiting the miserly Birmingham who do not concede many at home, and Forest do not have a good record away from home at the top six teams this season; they’ve lost at Southampton, Cardiff City, West Ham and Middlesbrough and the trip to Birmingham could make it five losses.
Striker Marcus Tudgay (5 goals) leads a low-scoring Forest squad, and only midfielder Andy Reid (5 assists) has provided any sort of creative spark for the east midlanders.
Quite simply, Birmingham should win this one hands down without too many problems, and I’m confident that they are capable of covering the handicap here in front of a buoyant and partisan St Andrews blue-nosed crowd – a 2-0 home win for The Blues.
Pick: Birmingham City AH-1 @ 2.15 Pinnacle