October 28, 2017 by Kane Styles.
We find ourselves less than a day away from the second-city derby; an occasion that promises jubilation, devastation, mistakes and moments of brilliance.
Birmingham City have not been blessed with good fortune against our city counter-parts in recent times. This time last year, Blues dominated Villa at St. Andrews but simply couldn’t find a winner. Two golden chances were missed by Clayton Donaldson, Jacques Maghoma went clean through on goal but fluffed his lines, Ryan Shotton was unable to get his effort on target from inside the six-yard box and Rhoys Wiggins’ effort was a whisker away from sneaking in via a deflection. Steve Bruce knows his side had an enormously lucky escape that afternoon.
The return fixture at the end of April was another sucker-punch. Redknapp took charge of Blues for the first time and as a unit, Blues looked solid and Villa simply didn’t look like scoring. There wasn’t much in the game, Che Adams had the best opportunity and should have put Blues 1-0 to the good but his volley sailed high into the Holte End. The Gabby Agbonlahor curse struck once more; the striker latched onto a scuffle in the box from a corner and he converted from close range. A cruel end to a game which lacked any real quality.
Blues are the clear underdogs for Sunday, Villa have been in inspired form. With that being said we all know that form goes out of the window on an occasion like this. The Bluenoses have the ability to ignite fire into the hearts of the players and as soon as the 11 Birmingham City men step onto the turf at 11:57, they’ll need no motivation. We know what we have to do to win.
Steve Cotterill must reiterate the importance of using pace to Blues’ advantage. With Adams and Vassell both in contention to start, John Terry and James Chester will be fully aware that they’re going to have their work cut out. Experience is one thing, but having the athleticism and physical capability is another; John Terry will be someone who Blues must look to expose.
Jota, our new record-signing, is another man who can be the catalyst for derby-day success. After Brentford trounced Villa 3-0 last campaign, Jota played a starring role and gave Henri Lansbury nightmares all evening. For me, Jota would be of greater vale to Blues if he is used in the number ten position; he has the ability to create something out of nothing and that is exactly the type of player we need for Sunday. Will Cotterill go with Boga or Maghoma? It’s a difficult question. Maghoma has featured in the derby on three occasions and has started the two games Cotterill has been in charge. Speed kills, on a personal note I’d start Jeremie Boga on the wing to really inject some venom into Blues’ counter-attacks.
Jonathan Kodjia and Albert Adomah are the duo that Blues have to be wary of. Adomah has a healthy habit of scoring for Villa this term and is enjoying his best spell since his arrival in B6. Kodjia has been a revelation since coming to England in 2015, however he hasn’t started this season as well as he would have hoped. Let’s hope he doesn’t have an enjoyable day Sunday.
The music and alcohol will be flowing in the city centre come the early hours of Monday morning if Blues are to secure the bagging rights. If we don’t, well Bluenoses will pick themselves up and continue to give their devoted support to the club we love week-in-week-out. Along with a pint or ten.
Give it 100% and don’t leave anything on that pitch come the final whistle.
Keep Right On.