December 14, 2012 by Made In Brum
Blues take on high-flying Crystal Palace at St. Andrews tomorrow (3pm). Blues are looking to make it a second home win in a row, but Ian Holloway’s men, who are second in the league, will prove tough opposition. Lee Clark will be without Hayden Mullins (suspended) Darren Ambrose and Jonathan Spector. Nikola Zigic and Pablo Ibanez will be assessed and Morgaro Gomis is in the squad. Gabriel Sutton previews tomorrow’s opponents.
Saturday’s game sees perhaps the biggest underachievers of the Championship season so far, ourselves, play host to undoubtedly the biggest overachievers, Crystal Palace. Neither side would have been too surprised, or even indeed, disappointed if they were to be mid table at this point in time, however the Eagles are flying high in 2nd place, a few points clear of the play-offs, whilst Blues linger in 19th and our season is yet to really get going, if it will at all.
Ian Holloway is so far unbeaten with his new side, having taken an impressive 17pts from his first 7 matches in charge, though they failed to hold onto another win last week, when they conceded a late equalizer against the Bristolian’s former club, Blackpool.
Few Palace fans would have believed me if I told them they’d be in this position now, at the end of August. They had in fact lost their first 3 games, whereas Holloway’s club Blackpool, had won their first 3- the idea of Holloway swapping seaside for South London seemed preposterous. What’s more, after a bright start to the previous season, the Eagle’s slumped to a 17th placed finish last year, so a relegation dogfight looked on the cards.
Oh how things have changed. After the 3 defeats, Dougie Freedman managed the team to a 10-game unbeaten run that took them until the end of October, before he attracted the attentions of Bolton and headed up north. Coming down the other side of the motorway was Holloway, who had won just 2 of the 10 games since the 100% record in August, and many of those 10 games ended in defeats for Blackpool.
However, since the switch Holloway has never looked back. He has guided the Eagles up to 2nd place and with a 3pt gap between them and 3rd place, his side look good odds for promotion, though trips to Cardiff and Nottingham Forest won’t make it easy for them to stay there.
Let’s have a look at Palace’s dangermen. Wilfried Zaha is the obvious name on everybody’s lips at the moment, including Ferguson and Wenger’s, but I believe that it is Glenn Murray whom us Blues fans should fear most. The 29-year-old made a brave move swapping Eagles for Seagulls two seasons ago, but appears to be ruffling a few feathers this season as he is by far Crystal Palace’s top scorer with 17 goals. He’ll be a threat.
The talented Zaha is probably worth a bit of a mention too, because the teenage prodigy won the Championship young player of the month in October and has earned an England call-up from Roy Hodgson recently. An impressive achievement though that is for one so young, he’s contributed (goals and assists combined) to just 7 of Palace’s 41 league goals this season, and my personal opinion is that he is being marginally overrated by pundits, and blatantly Holloway to increase his price tag. Murray is the man I shall be most worried about. Cue the Zaha hat-trick.
With Palace in such good nick under their new manager, it would take the most ardent Birmingham City fan not to be satisfied with a point. I’ve got a feeling we can put in a strong performance on Saturday, because despite our disappointing start, we’ve developed a habit of bouncing back quickly from defeats. However, if I was to predict this match completely as a neutral, I would say that Crystal Palace need the win for their promotion ambitions more than we do, so I’ll say Blues will have their work cut out.
Stats from @bcfcarchive
Head to Head
Blues host to Crystal Palace having previously recorded 15 wins, 4 draws and 5 defeats in the 97 year history of this fixture. Blues have a 62.50% win record when at home against the Eagles.
Blues hold the overall head to head advantage winning 20 of the previous 48 encounters between the two sides. There have been 18 wins for Palace and 10 draws.
Blues have scored 38 goals, conceding 24 when Palace are in town.
On average, there have been 1.58 scored and 1 goal conceded by Blues when at home.
There has only been one 0-0 draw between the sides with Blues as hosts. The greatest margin of victory for Blues had been 4-1 on Saturday 18th October 1986. Palace responded the following season, with a 0-6 victory on 5th September 1986, which remains the biggest win in this fixture.
On this day
Blues have an overall record of 10 wins, 2 draws and 3 defeats on the 15th December previously. There have been 19 goals scored and 17 conceded. There has only ever been one draw at St Andrews on this day, in 2007 1-1 with Reading.
The last Blues side at home on this day beat Maribor 1-0 in the final game of the Europa League group stage. Adam Rooney found the net for Blues, in what proved to be the last game of the 2011 European adventure.