It's almost 2 weeks since our last match, so this weekend's game will be our first without Stu Holden. However, based on Birmingham's recent form, it's not a bad one to test out our new midfield in. While the Blues were ecstatic after their Carling Cup win against Arsenal, they have failed to win a game since. They have scored only 14 goals in their last 17 league matches Our recent history against them also bodes well, as we've had 4 wins and a draw in our last 5 with them. This fixture will look familiar as we just went to St. Andrews two games ago, in the FA Cup, a game which we won to put us in the semi-finals. Owen Coyle and his men will look to have a repeat.
While we did win, it was by no means an easy match and Birmingham are not an easy team to beat. The word "tenacious" comes up frequently, despite their current location in the relegation zone. They will likely have the boost of their top scorer Nikola Zigic's return. Lee Bowyer, who has proved influential in the Blues' midfield is also expected to start. This is a winnable game, but I don't think we should be as nonchalant about it as many previews would have you believe. They've scored 54% of their goals from set pieces, the highest percentage in the league, and we should be worried about that as we all know how Paul Robinson just loves to concede free kicks around the box.
That brings us over to our team. This is the expected line up from the Guardian. Really, it could be worse. Tamir Cohen hasn't made much of an impact this season, he fell out of favour when Coyle came in, but there's obviously not much choice at this point, with Mark Davies still out. It's easy to forget that he did put some good performances in. The center of defense remains Wheater and Cahill, Zat returned to training but is not yet match-fit. After Wheater's mostly solid performances, Coyle will have a dilemma on his hands when Knight does return. Chung-Yong is expected to start as well, which is good news as he always bosses his wing when on the pitch. Coyle has been trying to rest him as much as possible, but without the presence of Holden, we'll need a big influence in our midfield.
I'm nervous for this game. Our midfield has relied heavily on Stu Holden this season, and I have doubts as to whether Cohen is really ready to start. Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised. Maybe the team will grow in his absence, now that the resident crutch is gone. I suppose we'll find out on Saturday.