Premiership: Blackpool V Birmingham City – Tuesday, 4th January

Premier League Tips


Blackpool V Birmingham City

Tuesday, 4th January – 20:00 (GMT)

For an in-depth preview containing valuable background information such as each team’s respective league statistics, as well as their recent form, simply click on the following link: Blackpool V Birmingham City – Soccer-Betting Previews

 

Blackpool have romanced the Premier League silly this season with their enthusiasm for attacking football, but also their disregard for logic. Ian Holloway’s philosophy is as follows: the more men you have inside the opponent’s penalty area, the higher the probability you have of scoring a goal. In some respects, he’s correct. However, it does leave his side immensely vulnerable at the back and as a result, they often get caught out and punished especially against those who have the inventory in defence to handle the regular Blackpool onslaughts.

Birmingham fit the above description to perfection, with Alex McLeish’s philosophy the exact opposite to Holloway’s, with the Scot insistent on the rule of thumb that parking the bus does earn you points, albeit in batches of 1’s rather than 3’s.

It’s a dull ploy for spectators but McLeish will care less about that. He’s a ruthless character who before raiding someone else’s shop, ensures his own has the best protection money can buy, or at least protection which has been well-drilled and thoroughly trained in the art of resolute defending. And, to his credit, McLeish has assembled a formidable back-four containing two of the best centre-halves in the top-flight, in my humble opinion, in Scott Dann and Roger Johnson, while Liam Ridgewell and Stephen Carr are no mugs at full-back, either.

Just six clean sheets from their first nineteen league games is both surprising and disappointing for a team which as a collective unit pride themselves on their shrewd defensive foundations. However, those six shut-outs are proof that even though the Blues are enduring a torrid season, where they find themselves inside the bottom three and without a win in their last five, their defence still has the resilience and mental toughness to nullify offences of Premiership calibre.

You probably think we’re mad backing Birmingham to keep a clean sheet against a Blackpool side who play in one manner and with one common goal, and that’s with every one of their players facing towards the opponent’s goal with one thing in mind; to get into the opposition box and locate the back of the net. But the Tangerines are unlikely to come across a team as well-organised and resolute at the back as Alex McLeish’s Birmingham. Actually they have, the same team in actual fact, Birmingham City. The Blues completely outplayed Blackpool in the reverse encounter at St Andrews, where the Midlands outfit passed Blackpool off the pitch and used their solid defensive platform to build onwards and upwards. That day they ran out 2-0 winners, comfortable winners at that, and Blackpool could have played all night and they still wouldn’t have even come close to scoring, and no-one has made Blackpool look at themselves offensively like Birmingham have this season.

Of course, you could argue that Holloway will tinker with his team-sheet well aware of the tactical threat the visit of Alex McLeish and his Brummie side pose, possibly even have a play with his formation and tactics. However, Holloway is a man of principles, so we are led to believe, a man who has promised supporters he will never alter the way his team play, which is always on the front foot looking to score at every opportunity. Why? Because he had a tinker away at Arsenal and Chelsea earlier in the season and got punished. So, despite facing a nemesis of theirs, Holloway is unlikely to go back to the drawing back and conjure a new plan after having his fingers burnt previously, especially not as this game is at Bloomfield Road, where the fans are expecting more of the same forward swagger and penache from their side, and in a fixture the Tangerines are actually favourites to win. Yes, favourites, I couldn’t believe it. I think punters are forgetting that the vast majority of Blackpool’s success and limelight has came from their underdog statuses. They’re favourites in this one and it will be interesting to see how they handle all the pressure and the onus being on them for a change.

Second from bottom they are, but Birmingham have one of the best defences in the league, irrespective of the statistics, even though they don’t paint a poor picture. Of course, they do struggle to create openings, which in turn means they don’t score as often as they would like, but they’re a menace in the air and up against a Blackpool side who are not renowned for their lanky individuals or aerial prowess, Birmingham could well prosper from the aerial duels at Bloomfield Road.

 

Matt’s Selections:

LAY of Blackpool @ 2.40 Betfair
Birmingham to WIN – 3.30 VictorChandler

Value Punts:

Birmingham to WIN to NIL – 5.50 PaddyPower
Birmingham to Keep a Clean Sheet – 3.80 Coral
 


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