West Bromwich Albion vs Birmingham City – Preview

Team News

For Albion Graham Dorrans is available again but James Morrison serves the second game of his suspension.

Blues have lost James McFadden with a bad knee injury so Alexander Hleb should make his debut. Jean Beausejour is still settling in after his trip from Chile so will be on the bench at best. I wouldn’t be surprised if the starting line up is the same as last week.

Last Meeting

We have not played West Brom since March 2007 where an 86th minute equaliser from Damien Johnson secured a 1-1 draw at the Hawthorns. Quite a goal it was too. He didn’t score many but they were often good ones.

Recent Form

West Brom had a terrible start being beaten 6-0 by Chelsea but since them have gained four points at home and suffered a narrow defeat at Anfield.

Blues are unbeaten with one win and three draws and should probably have more points after surrendering a two goal lead at Bolton and failing to convert multiple chances last week against Liverpool.

Outlook

Tomorrow we have the rare treat of a game with our other near neighbours for the first time in three and a half years. It’s also the even rarer treat of a game against a West Midlands rival that kicks off at three O’clock on a Saturday afternoon. I’m not surprised at that because I don’t know of any history of bad feeling between the clubs. In fact I often share the train back to Solihull with many Baggies and I’ve always found them to be a decent lot. My Uncle’s a Baggie and as a club I’m happy for them to do well. Not tomorrow of course.

As for tomorrow I have one plea to make to our manager, well two if I can include “Sign your bloody contract!”. That plea is to make better use of the subs. It’s pretty much my only issue with McLeish that he often seems reluctant to make changes and usually leaves them too late. Last week was a good example in that we played well but towards the end McFadden and Jerome were running out of steam but the only change happened in stoppage time. I hope Hleb and Beausejour get more then a ten minute run out to show us what they can do. Having said that, they shouldn’t just walk into the team considering how well Larsson has been playing.

I expect Albion to be up for this one as their home form will be key if they are to survive and they also won’t want to lose a local derby. So in a way I think the pressure will be on them and it should allow us to play the counter attacking game that McLeish favours away from home. If they score early however I think it will be difficult for us but I can still see us getting something out of this one regardless. One thing we have that West Brom don’t is options if things don’t go well. That is of course if the manager chooses to use them. I’d probably take a draw tomorrow as long as we can turn one point into three next week at home to Wigan. I don’t expect there to be a lot of goals as neither side is known for being clinical in front of goal.

I’ll play safe and predict 1-1.

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