Fri, Feb 11, 7:28am by Kevin Pitstock
Here’s a game which both teams will regard as winnable. Birmingham City are relying on their home strength to try and get them through that always difficult second season since promotion, while Stoke City have always found it difficult to win on the road in the Premier League, ever since they won promotion back into the top division. Birmingham are still just a point above the relegation zone and Stoke will be focusing on survival first, and any other achievements second.
BIRMINGHAM CITY PREVIEW
Who says Cup runs are bad for league form? The lift of getting to Wembley in the Carling Cup seems to have done them considerable good. They’ve taken four points from six and won in the FA Cup. A very dogged draw with Manchester City was followed up by a valuable win at West Ham, where the beanpole striker Nicola Zigic scored. Birmingham’s home form is dominated by draws – they have 7 in 12 games, and just two defeats at St.Andrew’s. Finding the killer touch has been the problem but Zigic, a big summer investment, has now scored in his last two matches. Striker Obafemi Martins now has a work permit, but he may not be quite match sharp enough to make an impact.
STOKE CITY PREVIEW
Good old Stoke. They are physical, playing to their strengths and seemingly happy to know their place in the scheme of things. They used all their power to get a late win over Sunderland in their last game, but it’s not so easy to dominate Birmingham in that way, as Alex McLeish’s side have height and a robustness to them as well. John Carew’s off the mark in terms of goal scoring, which will be a relief to all concerned. The away record is poor though – 8 defeats in 12, mixed in with three wins. Stoke are generally risk averse, as you can see from their average of exactly one goal per game on the road. Trying to soak up Birmingham pressure is not advisable. It’s little surprise to see that this fixture was a 0-0 draw last season. I don’t think the Potters would be that upset if history repeated itself.
BIRMINGHAM CITY V STOKE CITY BEST BET AND PREDICTION
Tight, gritty and competitive – a repeat of last season’s draw looks a good bet at $3.40 with IASbet – other bookies have it priced up at $3.20. Both sides have a little more power up front than last year, so a 1-1 draw looks the probable result.
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