Fan Preview vs Birmingham City

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Four wins out of four, fourteen goals scored, top of the league and Jermain Defoe cracking in thunderbolt shots from everywhere. Birmingham City are up next and they surely must be crapping themselves? Or maybe not. If a team went on a four game winning run in November or January then it’d rouse barely a flicker of interest. Still, if you’re of the opinion, like I am, that our target for the season should be to finish top of the everyone-but-the-big-four league then it’s hard not to get excited by the good start we’ve made compared to all of our main (on paper) rivals. Just Manchester City have matched our 100% start and they’ve played a game fewer. Villa and Fulham are six points behind us and Everton an amazing nine.

Ahead of three of those teams though lie Birmingham with 4 points from 3 games. With only one goal scored and one conceded in the league so far Blues don’t look like they’re going to be this season’s Premier League entertainers. They bring experience in the shape of Maik and Martin Taylor (the latter may be viewed generally in a more sympathetic light after Eduardo’s effort the other night), that lovely Lee Bowyer chap, Ridgewell, Phillips, Ferguson, McFadden and Carsley. There’s a lot of gurning and fist pumping in the archives of that lot. And then there’s Stephen Carr. Tipped many moons ago by Ossie Ardiles as a possible future Spurs captain Carr’s career instead took an injury plagued downward sloping path that at one point led him to make a special trip over to the Tottenham fans at St James’s Park to let us know exactly what he thought of us after our 1-0 defeat in a FA Cup quarter final there, and it wasn’t complimentary. He officially retired from everything in December last year – and made his debut for Birmingham in February this year. The weird world of football. At his height with us he was a Rolls Royce of player, he’s now a cut ‘n’ shunt just doing a job until he falls apart again.

Birmingham have a good recent history against us, their last visit to WHL was early in the Juande Ramos’ reign and they won 3-2, Sebastian Larsson smacking home a last minute winner from range. They turned us over at St Andrew’s as well that year, that was the game after the Wembley win over Chelsea where most of our still celebrating players had to be dragged off the dance floor to get them on the coach for the fixture.

We will in all likelihood be unchanged, assuming Ledley wins his latest battle of Wounded Knee. There were some good performances at Doncaster and it’ll be interesting to see if Redknapp changes the bench at all in response, Giovani staked a good claim for instance.

So we can expect them to sit tight and make things tricky for us. Anyone we play will draw heart from Harry’s speech a couple of weeks ago about how open we are so they’ll be looking to hit us on the break in exactly the same way that we’ve been doing to other teams in the last week. But, if we’re going to keep this run going then we’re going to have to find ways past big experienced teams who keep their shape and make it difficult so here’s a good opportunity to learn how to do it.

By MF

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