Premier League preview: Birmingham City v. Chelsea

This weekend sees us visit St. Andrews for the first time in two years to play the other team that likes to call itself The Blues. For those with short memories, Birmingham City were our first game of this so far very interesting season. We won 3-2 on that day back in August and all I could do was keep up with it by text as I sunned myself in the balmy temperatures of Southern France.

The season promised much after that game. It was a day that sealed Glen Johnson’s fate after yet another defensive howler, and built hopes with two of our newbies, Claudio Pizarro and Florent Malouda getting themselves on the score sheet. Little did we realise just how ineffective both would be after that. Malouda showed some more desire and hunger against Spurs, but Pizarro, despite being better in the same game still showed me enough to carry on believing he will not make it in the Premier League. Be honest folks, can you really say he’s better than Kezman, or Gudjohnsen, both of whom we despatched after deciding their usefulness was limited?

Some Chelsea player news. Frank Lampard is back in training and according to one of my Matthew Harding Lower pre-match debating colleagues walked through the hotel before last week’s game and when asked when he was back said he hoped it would be for tomorrow. Even so, expect a bench place to start with. Nicolas Anelka is almost certain to start and maybe there’ll even be a place for Branislav Ivanovic if all the legalities are completed. Hopefully that will not be at the expense of the impressive Juliano Belletti.

Birmingham are amongst a number of teams that followed our lead in changing managers midway through a season when they seemingly sat back and let Steve Bruce depart for the arguably much harder challenge of Wigan. Alex McLeish has lifted the team although the form is still a bit up and down they have the unenviable record of having lost 12 Premier League games this season, second only to Derby’s appalling tally of 17. Players to watch are of course Mikael Forsell who no doubt will want to prove a point and Sebastian Larsson who’s stunning strike broke Spurs’ hearts, but made all Chelsea and Arsenal fans jump for joy in McLeish’s first game.

Birmingham have not beaten Chelsea in six home league games since a 5-1 triumph in the old Second Division on 11th March 1980. Their last home top-flight victory over the London Blues was over 33 years ago, a 2-0 win on 2nd November 1974.

Chelsea set a new record of 64 unbeaten home matches in top-flight football, when they defeated the Brummies on the opening weekend of the season.

Prediction: I’m loathe to do these as I firmly believe I am a Jonah and will only tempt fate to deliver the wrong result, but the form we’re in and the confidence running through the team, along with the “Anelka effect” should see us to a narrow win. 2-1 to us.