October 16, 2015 by johnsonkro
By Daniel Johnson
Tomorrow, Blues will play host to relegated Queens Park Rangers.
Gary Rowett has several selection dilemmas on his mind, and the way he approaches tomorrow’s match may be indicative of how he sees the season going for Blues. Currently, Blues are fourth in the table and flying high. Meanwhile, the visitors lie in mid-table, after a disappointing start. QPR are uniquely both the highest scorers and have the worst defence in the league, scoring 18 and conceding 20. Blues on the other hand have scored 16 and conceded 10.
For tomorrow, Rowett has at least two big decisions to make. The first is at CB, and concerns the position next to Michael Morrison. For the last two games, Rowett has chosen Paul Robinson there, having used Jonathan Spector all season otherwise. Robinson’s two games at CB this season, away games at Brentford and Leeds have both ended in clean sheets and 2-0 wins for Blues. What must also come into contention however, is the personnel QPR are likely to use upfront. Charlie Austin is out, meaning that they will probably use Jay Emmanuel-Thomas. JET, like his acronym suggests, possesses extreme pace and thus Rowett must be careful with selection at CB. Ditching Robbo may be harsh after two clean sheets, but I’d point to the last time (I think) that he came up against a quick striker. Bournemouth away, when Callum Wilson tore through him, scoring once, then winning a penalty after a clumsy tackle by Robbo, and then getting Robbo sent off towards the end of the game. It’s this susceptibility to pace that I worry about, and the reason I’d pick Spector. He’s a bit cumbersome at times and his decision making’s not the best, but he is noticeably faster than Robbo and should allow us to deal with JET better.
The other selection is one regarding formation. In the last two league matches (and the Villa cup game), David Davis has played as a third midfielder, meaning Blues have played a 4-5-1/4-3-3 recently, instead of the usual 4-2-3-1. At home, the onus should be on Blues to go out and attack the game, but I don’t see tomorrow panning out like that. QPR are a very attacking side by nature, and their statistics show that they don’t have a very strong defence to rely on. Because of this, I’d expect Blues to keep Dave Davis in the middle and pack the midfield, at the expense of both Jon Toral and Andrew Shinnie. Personally, I feel a bit sorry for Shinnie. The only game he’s started this season (I think) was away at Ipswich when he got an assist for David Cotterill’s goal, yet Shinnie does seem to have some fitness problems which stop him from completing 90 minutes.
David Cotterill’s a major doubt, meaning that Jacques Maghoma will likely get the nod ahead of Viv Solamon-Otabor, although I’d expect to see VSO come off the bench towards the latter stages of the match.
Tomorrow, I expect a typical away performance by Blues, alas at St Andrews. QPR will come on the attack and it’s up to our defence and midfield to hold strong and for our front 3 (or 4) to punish them. Prediction: Blues 2-0 QPR. (Donaldson, Maghoma).
Predicted Starting XI:
Up the Blues and Keep Right On.