There’s never a dull moment following Blues. A stellar comeback saw Blues go from 0-2 down to 2-2, but a missed penalty and some non-existent defending left Blues fans reeling at the final whistle. Quite why a player who only scores with his head was on penalty duty, we’re not sure, but at least next time we should see someone else on them. A thunderbolt from Ivan Sunjic and a less impressive strike from Gary Gardner means both staked a claim to start again – despite Josh McEachran coming in.
Wigan start the game one spot above the relegation zone after a tough start, but that will not fill Blues fans with any confidence. They’ve only beaten Cardiff and Charlton, curiously, this season, but Blues’ penchant for losing to teams they should be beating is unmatched. Blues don’t look any closer to finding their best eleven, either, making every team news announcement interesting.
David Davis is likely to still be out, and it’s fair to say Blues’ defence was an issue last time out without him on patrol in front of them. That said, the forward threat of Gary Gardner is greater and if Blues want to get at a shaky Wigan team, maybe this will be a blessing. Jacques Maghoma started last time out, but he hasn’t had a lot of football recently and may be rested with this game coming so shortly after. One man who surely has to play, is Dan Crowley, who has been Blues’ brightest spark all season.
One interesting thing to note is that centre-back Geraldo Bajrami and wide player Cheick Keita were both notably absent from the Blues U23 squad, and may be around the first team squad.
The good news for Blues fans is that Blues smashed Wigan at the DW Stadium last time out – a 3-0 victory would be ideal once again. However, Michael Morrison and Che Adams both scored that day, which won’t happen tomorrow. At home, Blues drew 1-1 despite taking the lead early on through Jutkiewicz. Before that, you’d have to go back to Gianfranco Zola’s reign, where Dan Burn scored Wigan’s only goal in a 1-0 home loss. We don’t remember, either.
Blues are unlikely to change too much, despite the loss. We might see Maghoma and/or Crowley rested, and Villalba and/or Mrabti back in the fray, but other than that we don’t expect too many changes.
Clotet spoke about Saturday’s defeat and what it means for Blues going forward:
“Of course it is very difficult, yes, when you give a team head start (after 87 seconds) but Derby were fortunate they found themselves ahead of us on the back of a mistake. That’s the Championship, football is a game of mistakes and they capitalised. The same happened second-half. We slipped (Marc Roberts, the last man, in possession). But I saw a massive commitment from the players, massive character.
“Not only that attitude, but they did really good things (football wise) to control the game, to get forward and create chances. We pressed very well, too – I saw a Birmingham side that I liked a lot and I think the reaction from our fans at the end told you they understood we deserved something more. Absolutely, it is about getting that balance (between defence and attack). But that’s the way forward for us, away from home. To try and dominate and take the game to the opponent, try to go in for the kill.”
Wigan boss Paul Cook spoke about Blues too:
“I watched Birmingham on Saturday and they should never have lost at Derby, that’s how tough football can be. We have to win games; every club in the division has different aspirations and to fulfil your aspirations you must pick up points. And if you don’t pick up points then you will find yourselves in trouble.
“For us, last year, the points came very, very differently to probably this year because last year we were very much Charlton-like at the beginning of the season before we went into a difficult winter and we finished like we started. This year, it is a little bit stop-start and tougher to get points but we are very focused on what we are doing and along the way the lads are gaining a bit more confidence and strength together as a group as we go.”