As with just about every match in this division, Bolton Wanderers face a tough test this week. The Whites will travel to St. Andrew's to take on a newly free-scoring Birmingham City side. The Trotters, coming off an away clean sheet, are still very fragile and are still looking for their first win. Will it come at the expense of a suddenly strong Birmingham City team?
We took a moment to speak to excellent Birmingham City blog Often Partisan (website / Twitter) about what Bolton can expect at the weekend.
Birmingham City started the current campaign somewhat slowly but have made leaps and bounds in recent weeks. What changed?
A couple of factors. The return of influential players such as David Murphy has undoubtedly helped, giving quality and experience to the back line. We've also found a formation that works for us - 3-4-3 - and which utilises our best players such as Chris Burke. Jesse Lingard has come in on the left and seems to be on fire at the moment and that spell in his first game has lifted the team massively confidence-wise.
Jesse Lingard has been adding goals aplenty since his arrival. What is that he offers your club and what were you missing prior to his inclusion?
We weren't finishing chances without him; Novak was having a hell of a time up front trying to score and Blues didn't look mobile up front. Lingard drifts in off the left (as Burke does from the right) and thus we have this attack which pulls defence around. However, it would be a mistake to think he is the sole reason for our change in fortunes.
Apart from Lingard, who on your team should Bolton Wanderers be worried about?
Chris Burke is probably our best player but I think you guys should watch Tom Adeyemi. The young midfielder has really come into things of late and is quite capable of stopping a midfield playing. Swansea can attest to that as they just couldn't get attacks started in the second half of the cup tie.
Bolton have been struggling to score goals this season and recent scorelines make for scary reading in terms of the strength of Birmingham City's defense. What would you put the odds of Wanderers scoring at? Can you identify any weak points in the back line?
Blues haven't kept that many clean sheets; we can be easily susceptible to pace at the back and we seem to switch off at set pieces at times.
How are you feeling about your season thus far and has that changed from what you felt going into the season?
We're doing about as well as expected; we're in the toilet financially and we've had to bring in freebies and castoffs but they're starting to gel. If we can build on this new vein of home form we should be midtable hopefully; however, one does worry what will happen in the January window - whether we'll be forced to sell anyone else.
Finally, can we get a prediction?
2-1 to Birmingham City