Birmingham Host West Brom in Midlands Derby

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 01: Dwight Gayle of West Bromwich Albion celebrates scoring during the Sky Bet Championship match between West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City at The Hawthorns on September 1, 2018 in West Bromwich, England. (Photo by Lynne Cameron/Getty Images)

Birmingham City host Midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion at St Andrews on Friday night as the Blues desperately hunt their maiden win. Garry Monk’s side are one of just three teams yet to taste victory in the Championship this season and they aren’t favoured by many in this one either. They face a West Brom side that have responded well to their slow start.

Birmingham Host Midlands Derby

Blues Troubles Mounting

Birmingham are already feeling the pressure as they sit uncomfortably close to the bottom of the table after the opening month. Still without a win, all four of their accumulated points have come from draws as they struggle to find a cutting edge.

A severe lack of firepower has plagued Garry Monk this season with his side failing to score in five of their first seven games. But with both league defeats coming by just a solitary goal, getting his side firing would see Blues pick up results and turn fortunes around, on the pitch at least.

Off the field is a different matter and not so easily fixed. Birmingham City could lose the precious few points they’ve won so far as they face a potential deduction of 12 points for breaching Financial Fair Play regulations. Although this may well be a ‘worst case scenario’ punishment, if it were to come to fruition, it would certainly leave them in grave danger of relegation.

Steady Recovery

West Brom have recovered well from their disappointing start in which they managed only one point from their opening two fixtures. They’ve since gone on to win three of their following four league games and five of their last six in all competitions.

Darren Moore has found success in recent weeks having switched to a back three, pushing Kieran Gibbs higher and moving Harvey Barnes behind the front two. Unlike their weekend opponents, goals are not an issue for the Baggies. Jay Rodriguez and Dwight Gayle have formed a strong partnership helping to make Albion the league’s top scorers.

West Brom do have issues keeping clean sheets having failed to keep out their opponents in any league game so far this season. Their only clean sheet came in a 1-0 win against Luton Town in the Carabao Cup. The recent reintroduction of Craig Dawson should help resolve this matter as he continues to settle following a turbulent summer. The Baggies won’t be too concerned about clean sheets though as long as they continue to outscore the opposition.

Last Time They Met

These Midland rivals meet for the first time since January 2015, when they faced off in the fourth round of the FA Cup. That game also took place at St Andrews, with West Brom running out 2-1 winners on that occasion thanks to a Victor Anichebe brace.

West Brom have claimed victory in each of the last three meetings between the sides, with Blues’ last triumph over the Baggies coming back in 2006.

Predicted Line-Ups

Birmingham: Camp, Colin, Morrison, Dean, Pederson, Maghoma, Gardner, Kieftenbeld, Jota, Bogle, Jutkiewicz.

West Brom: Johnstone, Dawson, Hegazi, Bartley, Livermore, Brunt, Gibbs, Phillips, Barnes, Rodriguez, Gayle.

Prediction

On current form there looks to be only one winner. West Brom are in much better shape on and off the field and are fancied to push themselves up towards the Championship pace-setters before the rest of the weekend action takes place.

Prediction: Birmingham 1-3 West Brom

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