As I said, this is a Birmingham side that is only just clear of the relegation zone, and have kept clear of it by forcing draws against strong sides. They've only been good for one win a month in the Prem, but have drawn eight times, and against the likes of Man. City and Spurs. Of their three wins this year, all have come at home, but one was the fluke against Chelsea.
Alan Pardew has a real chance here to fix what's been a growing problem for this NUFC team, and that's taking care of business against the also-rans of the league. Birmingham's offense is woeful having only scored 17 times this season; against an NUFC defense that should see the return of Fabricio Coloccini, Mike Williamson, or both, their struggles to score should continue at least through this week.
Reasons we win:
Score a goal early has been my mantra of late since this team plays markedly better after scoring the first goal. But, this weekend I think the important thing will be just to score a goal. Of the eight draws that BCFC have forced four of them have been 0-0. They'll be playing with most of the side behind the ball and looking to limit chances, if we can put one in at any time it will probably be enough to win.
Defending the long ball and counter will be pivotal against a team that is sure to be playing behind the ball the way BCFC have this season. Last week we proved that we can indeed do this effectively and I can't see any reason that we shouldn't be able to shut down Birmingham's one dimensional offense.
Attacking the narrow set fullbacks. I'm a little out of my element commenting on tactics this specifically, but Birmingham tends to have their Full Backs set fairly narrow, this should allow Jonas and Joey to go around the outside and funnel an endless supply of crosses toward the head of Andy Carroll.
BCFC can't deal with Andy Carroll. Neither Roger Johnson or Liam Ridgewell have what it takes to keep Andy down. Look for those crosses to be well struck from the Geordie lad, and though I don't think it will happen, a high scoring performance from Andy is a possibility.
Reasons we lose:
Getting cute with the trap. If anyone pulls a Sol Campbell and gives up on a man that's onside while trying to trap him offside, it could be the mistake that let's BCFC steal a goal. If they do steal a goal you can bet it will be all 11 men behind the ball and we'll have quite a hole to dig out from.
If we can't crack the egg, we may find ourselves in a draw at the end of the day, and I for one will consider that a loss against this team. Three points are very important here with ManC and Tottenham next on the schedule.
Bad passing will kill us versus a side intent on limiting chances, a give away at midfield when you're pressing forward can put you're backs in 1 on 1 situations. We don't want that, so taking care of the ball while putting pressure should be a top priority.
Prediction: NUFC 1-0 BCFC, at the end of the day I think the BCFC approach keeps the ball out of the net for the most part, but I really don't think they can score on us with our best defenders in the game.