There are no tough games in the Premier League as weâ€™re often told and a trip to St Andrews most definitely does not qualify as one. Birminghamâ€™s home league record of seven goals scored and five conceded suggests that bringing your own fireworks might be the best source of entertainment on Saturday afternoon, something the Villa fans seem to have worked out for themselves on Wednesday.
Theyâ€™re tight at the back with six clean sheets already this season. In front of England keeper Ben Foster, Ridgewell, Dann and Johnson are thump first, ask questions later type defenders whilst that nice Stephen Carr has certainly made a decent fist of resurrecting his career after his retirement of a couple of years ago. He may not have the speed or class of his Spurs days when he was voted in to the PFA Team of the Season a couple of times but he wonâ€™t be afraid of trying to launch Bale into row Z should he manage to catch him.
In midfield Barry Ferguson has been receiving good reports (and only three yellows so far) but theyâ€™ve injury problems with both Hleb and Bowyer being doubts. Craig Gardner may deputise for one of them with Larsson and Fahey also available to stick the boot in on Modric (as per the advice given by a Bolton W scout on the radio this week).
Up front human tree trunk Nikola Zigic is taking his time making his mark on the English game with two league goals so far. Mind you thatâ€™s one more than our own beanpole Crouchy (who, slightly amazingly but according to the ever informative soccerbase.com, is three stone lighter and one inch shorter than the Serbian) has managed this season.
As for us, well itâ€™s all about whoâ€™s fit and ready as usual. Given Zigicâ€™s height and the absence of Kaboul, Harry will be a bit annoyed that Dawson didnâ€™t get the chance to get some fitness in a practice match during the week. Heâ€™ll be tempted to play him anyway but surely itâ€™d be foolish to risk losing him again by bringing him back too soon? Bassong and Gallas ought to start with the midfield the same as against Liverpool. Defoe should get his first start since his comeback with Redknapp tossing a coin between Crouch and Pav to see who starts with him.
Kevin Friend is in charge. Heâ€™s reffed as many Championship as Premier League games this season the last one being the 0-0 draw between West Ham and Blackpool so maybe the powers that be thought it was time he was given a treat by being able to witness the Entertainment and Comeback Kings in person.
A win in this one would give us a bit of breathing space heading into the Chelski game next weekend but given that only Everton have come away with all three points that wonâ€™t be easy. Maybe the weather will help us out and give some of those carrying injuries a week off. It wouldnâ€™t be the worst result. Still, given the momentum weâ€™ve got at the moment and the fact that they played a hard game on Wednesday maybe itâ€™s time to strike whilst the ironâ€™s hot.
Whatever happens, you know weâ€™re going to go for it. COYS.
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