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Opposition View: Birmingham City

24 November 2016

The Birmingham Mail's Brian Dick on what to expect from Blues on Saturday

Birmingham come to Griffin Park fifth in the table, what have you made of their start to the season?

Fifth is where they would have hoped to have been at the start of the season. They don’t tend to blow opponents away but have found themselves on the right side of the fine margins this season. They didn’t deserve to beat Bristol City but got the goal they needed and kept the clean sheet that got them the win. It’s probably fair to say that, behind the scenes, they are satisfied rather than over the moon with the start as they were in a similar position last season before they fell away.

Having been there or there abouts in the Play-Off picture over the last couple of seasons, what is the aim this time round?

I think it was the stated aim at the start of the season to get into those Play-Off places. I feel that Birmingham are in that group of teams that if things go well and they are lucky with injuries then they are capable of making the Play-Offs. The team has been in or around the top six for the best part of a year and a half now but the next step is to show that quality in enough games to make a top six spot their own.

Who should Brentford fans be looking out for on Saturday?

Ryan Shotton has come in from Derby County and dedicated himself to play at centre-back. He has probably been the player of the season so far. He seems to be a bit of a ball magnet in Blues area and has been leading from the back. Lukas Jutkiewicz has scored five goals in his last ten games and gives the team a real focal point up top.  He is very good in the air and the team will try to play off him as much as they can.

How will Gary Rowett look to set his side up this weekend?

Birmingham will come to keep it tight early on. They set up with only one real winger at the moment and David Davis, who is really a central midfielder, on the opposite side. They have been good when they get the ball up front in the last couple of games and what’s behind has been working ok. They are not conceding many goals and scoring just enough. I can’t see that changing at all: they certainly won’t go cavalier against The Bees.

And finally, what sort of game do you expect on Saturday?

I think this is a game that could go either way. If Blues play well then it is definitely one they can win, but, on the other hand if they don’t, Brentford have some very good players who can do damage. Scott Hogan, with his goals, is the player that leaps off the page when you look at your team but there is also a lot of local interest in Romaine Sawyers since his move from Walsall. We had seen him do well at League One level but there's a lot of interest in seeing how he copes with the step up. I am going to go for a 2-1 win to Blues to continue our good recent run against Brentford.


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