Birmingham v Nottingham Forest: Preview

Blues are back following the international break and play host to Nottingham Forest at St. Andrew’s.

Build Up

Blues seem to have a bit of a mountain to climb at the moment. 2 defeats back to back, as well as 4 games without a win, or even a goal. You’d think it can’t get any worse for Blues at the moment, but I’m not so sure! With David Stockdale, Maxime Colin, Carl Jenkinson and Isaac Vassell all out injured, it doesn’t get any better for Blues, as Craig Gardner joined that list this week with a calf problem, leaving selection in the middle of the park a tricky task for Steve Cotterill.

Image result for craig gardner birmingham
Craig Gardner looks set to miss out on Saturday with a calf injury.

The midfield selection crisis hasn’t been helped either, with Liam Walsh being sent back to Everton this week, leaving Blues with just 5 fit central midfielders, none of whom are in particularly good form. Steve Cotterill explained his decision to BCFC.com.

Liam Walsh has gone back to Everton; he wasn’t going to be ahead of the players already in there [central midfield]. We’d had a chat after the first week or two and I’d said just give me a little bit of time to look at it, and then when I think he wasn’t going to get a game there were probably a few more conversations on whether he should go back or not.

He couldn’t go back [as a first team player] until the window, but he’d prefer to go back and play with the 23s for Everton, rather than play in our 23s. He’s also back at home then, which I think was also another thing for him a bit as well.

I’ve got nothing but good things to say about him. He’s a great kid who had a lovely smile on his face every day he came in.

Cotterill did confirm however, that Walsh will still be available for Blues should he be required.

He can go back but he will still be available for us if all of a sudden we’re at a stage where we needed somebody to play.

Nottingham Forest are a side in decent form, winning 4 of their last 6 games, scoring 12 goals in the process. Their last game before the break was a 4-0 victory over QPR at the City Ground. Prior to that result, they lost 3-1 away at Reading, but won 3-2 at Hull City, who previously thrashed Blues 6-1 in Lee Carsley’s final game in caretaker charge, but the less said about that, the better.

Opposition Opinion

I asked Nottingham Forest supporter, @OeuvrePresents on Twitter, for his opinion on the Reds’ season so far, as well as their transfer business and key players.

Generally speaking we are amazing going forward under Warburton, we most def play his way…. its all whippy one touch passing, little lay offs etc etc… we play with Murphy up front on his own holding play up and feeding the three people behind him, which will prob be McKay on the left, Dowell down the middle and Tyler Walker (Des Walkers son) on the right…. We play two holding midfielders who rarely venture out of the centre circle whose job is to protect the back 4 and lay the ball forward to the three just behind the back…. our full backs, who will prob be Eric Lichaj and Armand Traore like to get forward as well.

We basically play a possession game, and play out from the back which is, atm, our major weakness…. if the opposition push high up the pitch and pressure the defenders they are likely to make a mistake which quite often leads to goals conceded. Because we push forwards a lot we are also very vulnerable to a fast counter attack as we often leave just the two centre backs and Bridcutt back….

SO this summer we bought Daryl Murphy from Newcastle for £2m – he is our joint top scorer on 6 goals…..

Loaned Keiran Dowell from Everton, much to the disgust of their fans who thought he would get a run in the first team this year…. he is joint top scorer on 6 goals as well

Bought Jason Cummings from Hibs for £1m – he had scored 20+ goals for them for the past three seasons – hasn’t really got much of chance this year so far tho, scored against Sheff Utd when we beat them tho

Liam Bridcutt from Leeds for between £500k and £1m

Andreas Bouchalakis from Olympiaiacos on a free – centre midfield

Bought Tendayi Darikwa from Burney for £2m

Barrie McKay from Rangers for £500k – easily worth ten times that, he fell out with the rangers manager prior to the season and got bumped down into the youth squad because he refused to sign a new contract – 4 goals, 7 assists (top assists in the championship)

Star players are the four front men, Murphy, Osborn (who will prob be playing as a holding midfielder this week), Dowell (if he can be arsed) and without a doubt McKay, if you have a right back who isn’t on form, he will get slaughtered by McKay…. Osborn is the unsung hero of the team in that his work rate is unbelievable, he is up and down, in peoples faces all the time…. If these 4 players play well, you will be in for it as they all play off each other really well, like i say, one touch pass and move type stuff….

Weakness is the defense which is very prone to shipping goals…. Warburton still isn’t sure what his best back four is…. also set pieces used to be a weakness…. we are also very lightweight, lots of our players are tiny and light, they get pushed off the ball lots…. we play much better against teams that like to pass the ball, and struggle against more direct teams like Millwall for example… if the opposition press high, they can easily force mistakes…. but we have been working on that a lot recently and everything seems to be tightening up at the back….

Score Prediction: Birmingham 1 – 3 Forest

Lineups

For me, our approach against Forest is simple – we HAVE to be more creative. We need to be making chances for ourselves more often, and to do that, we need creative players on the pitch.

In the defence, I think we need to drop Nsue. For me, he’s just not good enough defensively and doesn’t track back. Personally, I’d give Jason Lowe a chance at right back (if, contrary to rumours, he is still fit). He’s played there often at Blackburn and will do a better job that Cogley for me, given his experience at this level.

I’d keep the partnership of Dean and Roberts for this game, I think they’re our best two centre halves and they have both had their good games this season. I think it’s important to keep that partnership going now, rather than chopping and changing it every week.

A midfielder who knows how to keep possession is a must, for me it would have been Gardner, but following his injury, I’d have to suggest playing Stephen Gleeson instead. I’d play Kieftenbeld alongside him just because of the simple fact that he is our best holding midfielder. There’s no doubt about that for me.

As I said earlier, creativity is vital if we want to score more goals. I’d play Boga, Jota and Adams in front of the holding midfield pair; those 3 are arguably our most creative players. Boga hasn’t featured much lately, and I for one was surprised he was dropped in the first place, as he appeared one of our better players in the few games he has played.

Leading the line for me must be the Juke. In my opinion, Gallagher, as hard as he works, offers nothing Jutkiewicz can’t, and Juke is a better target man, which we need in order to get our creative players on the ball.

My Lineup (4-2-3-1):

Kuszczak
Lowe
Dean
Roberts
Grounds
Gleeson
Kieftenbeld
Boga
Jota
Adams
Jutkiewicz

Subs: Trueman, Nsue, Morrison, Davis, N’Doye, Cotterill, Gallagher

Played for both

Trevor Francis

One of the finest players to grace the St. Andrew’s pitch, the 5″10 striker from Plymouth scored 119 goals in his 280 games at Blues, and famously became England’s first £1m player when he joined Nottingham Forest in 1979. He went on to score 28 goals in his 2 year spell at Forest, before moving on to Manchester City in the early 80’s.

Dele Adebola

The Nigerian forward looked so bright when he first joined Blues, scoring in each of his first 5 games at the club, going on to score 13 in his first full season. However, he was never able to replicate this form and picked up a serious knee injury in the 2000/01 season. This effectively brought his time at Blues to an end, going out on loan to Oldham before joining Crystal Palace on a permanent basis. Adebola ended up at Forest in 2009, where he scored just 5 times in a 2 year spell at the club.

Chris Burke

Famed at Blues for his wicked crosses, as well as his brilliant left footed strikes cutting in from the right wing, Chris Burke departed Blues to join Nottingham Forest in 2014 following a 3 year spell at the club. The “Scottish Ronaldo” scored on his debut for the Reds against Blackpool. He didn’t score again until February 2015, and left the club for Ross County in 2016, having scored just 6 goals in 50 appearances.

Previous Meetings

Birmingham City 0 – 0 Nottingham Forest
14th January 2017

The last meeting between the two sides ended in a 0-0 draw. My only memory of the games was the fact that Craig Gardner made his return to St. Andrew’s, but it was a dull match up, typical of then-manager Gianfranco Zola’s reign at the club.

Nottingham Forest 1 – 3 Birmingham City
28th December 2014

My personal most memorable Blues vs Forest game came in late 2014 at the City Ground. Goals from David Cotterill and Clayton Donaldson (2) sealed a vital win for Blues under Gary Rowett, despite a late consolation goal from Britt Assomablonga.

Birmingham City 4 – 3 Nottingham Forest
5th September 1981

One for the more experienced Bluenoses here. In a thrilling contest at St. Andrew’s, Blues eventually came out on top in the early autumn of 1981, with Neil Whatmore scoring the decisive goal, his second of the game in front of 19,000 in Small Heath.

Referee

Chris Kavanagh

The Lancashire-based referee will be in charge at St. Andrew’s on Saturday. He has handed out 19 yellows and 1 red card this season so far, last officiating a Blues game in March, which was a 3-1 defeat to Leeds United. David Davis and Robert Tesche were booked by Kavanagh in that game.

Posted: 18 November 2017

17 years old, Block 11 season ticket holder & doing as many away games as possible. Also coaching an U14 football team in the Central Warwickshire Youth Football League. KRO