It was always going to happen wasn’t it? New season, new manager, same result. Hull is a place where Blues just don’t win and Saturday was no different. Blues were defeated 2-0 at the KCOM Stadium thanks to a double from Jarrod Bowen. It wasn’t a particularly great performance from Garry Monk’s men in a game the home side dominated.
One major point that was more than reinforced Saturday was that Blues are simply a much better side when Maikel Kieftenbeld is in the side. The Dutchman is crucial and plays a key role in the team. Saturday the midfield with David Davis, albeit his first start since his long injury lay-off, and Gary Gardner looked extremely fragile and devoid of ideas. Even when Craig Gardner came on in place of Davis early in the second half the midfield just wasn’t the same without Kieftenbeld. Going forward I personally feel that a standard 4-4-2 and not a diamond formation is our best formation with Kieftenbeld and Gary Gardner the partnership in central midfield.
It was a poor result Saturday but as we have seen time and time again this season Blues always bounce back. What better way to bounce back than to beat the Villa at St Andrews next Sunday! I think all Blues fans will agree that the week leading up to the derby game seems to go so slow and, come Sunday lunchtime, my nerves will be through the roof! We all desperately want to see Blues win the derby against Aston Villa but not just for the bragging rights. No it’s for much more than that. This current Birmingham city side have been fantastic all season and a win next weekend would further cement this current crop of blues players and the management team as one of the most adored set of blues staff and players of all time.
Some things of course never change and Villa winning 4-0 against Derby on Saturday is obviously a major confidence boost for them a week before the derby. However, this is merely papering over the cracks. Villa defensively are still all over the place and Adams and Jutkiewicz will be looking to cause them all sorts of problems. The battle and the game in my opinion will be won in midfield. Whether Monk opts to go for three in midfield or just the two this decision is a big one. McGinn and Hourihane are hard working players and both have an eye for goal. Kieftenbeld and co are in for a tough battle against those two in particular.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible for me to go through a whole piece about Birmingham City and Aston Villa without touching on one man: Jack Grealish. He’s overrated we all know that. “The championship’s best player” according to Dean Smith is nowhere near as good as the delusional villa fans we live and work with make out. His stats prove that. The £40 million price tag for a player who can run with the ball and not do much else is laughable. BUT, and this is a warning, Jack Grealish is Villa’s most influential player and I am fed up of him controlling every single recent derby game and dictating the tempo. Grealish has the ability to hurt Birmingham and he must be closely watched all game. The thought of Grealish scoring in front of the Tilton is sickening!
Maxime Colin going off injured just before half time at Hull Saturday was a major blow. In Colin we have one of the best full backs in the division and if he is out of the game next weekend it is a negative point. However, in Wes Harding we do have a fantastic replacement and one who always gives 100%. My issue is with Pedersen. I don’t question his ability and he has been great for us this season. I question his discipline. It is vital that he keeps his head next Sunday. All referees are quick to do anything to benefit Aston Villa and Pedersen, prone to a rash challenge, will need to be very careful especially when coming up against Grealish. Going down to ten men is exactly what we don’t want.
As always there will be loads of opinions on what the starting eleven should be on Sunday and who should replace who. I think Blues would be best reverting back to the standard flat 4-4-2 instead of the diamond. My starting lineup for Villa would be: Camp, Harding, Dean, Morrison, Pedersen, Mahoney, Kieftenbeld, C Gardner, Maghoma, Adams & Jutkiewicz.
You will no doubt question my choice of wingers. “Seriously Theo, Maghoma over Mrabti and Jota have a day off” I can hear you all saying! However, Mahoney is an old fashioned winger who drives at defences and Maghoma, on his day, is untouchable with his trickery and skills. This mix of directness and trickery will help to stretch the Villa defence and allow more space for Adams to work his magic!
That’s my preview and my thoughts on the massive game next weekend. It’s about time we beat Villa and I firmly believe we have enough to beat them on Sunday. This seasons been great. Forget the points deduction. Forget promotion for one second. Garry Monk and players, nows the time to cement yourselves as heroes at Birmingham City. There’s only one team in Birmingham and one deserving of carrying the clubs name and that’s the boys in blue and white: Birmingham City. As always fans bring the noise, outsing the Villa and KEEP RIGHT ON!