A two-week drought without Sky Bet Championship action comes to an end on Friday evening when the campaign resumes after the international break as Birmingham City host troubled Derby County in front of the TV cameras.
Birmingham have made a decent start to a season where more people would have expected them to finish in the bottom half than the top one so they have something to build on. Derby haven’t been as bad as they were portrayed to be either.
Where to watch
The match will be shown live and in full on the Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Football channels. The build-up to the game begins at 7.30pm for an 8pm kick off.
With just one defeat in their opening five matches, Birmingham City have given themselves a platform to build from over the next period up until the next international break. Their start has been so strong that a win here could move them into the top three ahead of the remainder of the matches this weekend. That will be all the motivation that the Blues need to keep up their intensity even with all that is going on for them off the pitch.
The highlight of the season for Birmingham was the 5-0 win at Luton and that highlights the attacking options they have available with Troy Deeney having come in since then to enhance those numbers. What might not have been noticed as much is the fact that they have kept three clean sheets in their five matches and that might be something which pleases Lee Bowyer more than the amount of options they have going forward.
When the season was about to begin there was all sorts of doom and gloom around Derby County. There were supposedly without much of a squad and were certainties for relegation. While I don’t think there is any question that they are in a bit of a mess, at the same time things clearly weren’t quite as bad as was being made out because if they were they couldn’t have picked up six points from their opening five matches.
Winning matches has been something of an issue for Derby this season. They have only won one match, which was at newly promoted Hull City, but on the flip side of that they have only lost one match and they were ahead in that heading into injury time. Derby don’t tend to travel too well though. They have lost nine of their last 11 road matches and don’t tend to come out of international breaks very well as they have players away who featured on the Wednesday evening.
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All eyes will be on the Birmingham team sheet to see if Troy Deeney is given a starting place by Lee Bowyer or whether he has to come into the game from the bench. Given the form of the side you would imagine it is the latter.
Wayne Rooney will need to assess the fitness of Kamil Jozwiak who was involved in quite an intense match against England on Wednesday evening so backing up 48hrs later won’t be easy. Colin Kazim-Richards is out but Sam Baldock might feature.
I don’t usually get too involved in these Friday night matches but I do like Birmingham City here. They have been able to build up to the game in a much more settled fashion than their opponents given that they haven’t had as many away on international duty and things. They went into the international break in a much more settled fashion as well and I always prefer a side who take confidence into the break with them.
In Tatith Chong, Birmingham will probably have the standout player on the pitch and his creativity can ensure the Blues don’t lack for chances at any stage in the match. That might be the difference here. Derby are lacking that creative influence who can open a defence up with a bit of magic, and to be fair to the Blues defence, even if they had it Birmingham have kept much better sides than them quiet this term. I think there is more than enough to suggest the home side can win this one.
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