Big calls helped stop the rot

Blues ended their two-month run of losing away games and three-game losing streak to earn only their second draw of the season.

The Game

Following another clanger by Lee Camp against Fulham, many were calling for the goalkeeper to be dropped. When the starting line-up was announced an hour before kick-off, those calls had been answered.

23-year-old Connal Trueman came in for Camp for his first game in over a year. The other surprises in the starting line-up were Bela and Maghoma coming in for Villalba and Davis.

I think we played a 4-3-3 formation. We played well in the first half, creating a few chances and not giving too many away to the Terriers.

0-0 at the halfway point was probably fair. A sloppy bit of defending 10 minutes into the second half allowed Fraizer Campbell in to finish neatly.

It was a poor goal to concede, but it was Marc Roberts at fault, rather than Trueman. Roberts made up for his mistake on the 78th minute, converting a neat free kick from Bellingham (although Juke may have got the final touch).

There were a couple of chances at the end for Blues to nick it, but a nice save from Gimenez meant that the spoils were shared, which feels like a fair result.

Formation

Under previous managers recently, our starting 11 has pretty much picked itself, allowing teams to reliably anticipate how we would play.

With the improved squad depth that we now have, Pep has player and tactical choices to make. Our bench on Saturday was one of the strongest that I can remember – Camp, Harding, Montero, McEachran, Villalba, Davis and Gimenez.

It’s nice that we can outfox our opponents by trying different formations. Whilst many people often list our best starting 11, it’s really a case of horses for courses.

Our defensive starters seem settled (albeit with a recent change in ‘keeper): Trueman, Pederson, Roberts, Dean, Colin, Bellingham, and Sunjic.

With Juke also a sure-starter, although some have argued against this recently, that leaves three available places out of Crowley, Maghoma, Bela, Montero, McCeachran, Mrabti, Villalba, Davis, Gimenez and Bailey.

That doesn’t include Craig Gardener, who now seems more coach than player in his player/coach role, or the injured Gary Gardener or Kieftenbeld.

There’s a lot of competition for places in midfield, so I wouldn’t be surprised if a few midfielders left the club in January, potentially to fund a much-needed poacher of a striker.

Wednesday on Wednesday and Milwall on Saturday

The much-loved ramp up to the busy festive-football season is underway with three games in eight days for Blues.

Our next two games are against former Blues managers: we go up against Garry Monk’s ninth-placed Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough on Wednesday night and Gary Rowett’s tenth-placed Millwall at St Andrew’s on Saturday.

As things stand, we’re nine points off the relegation zone and six points from the play-offs.

If we could avoid defeat at Hillsborough and get a good win over Millwall on Saturday, I’ll be happy with five points out of nine from two away games and one at home this week.

Keep right on.

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