St. Andrew’s Stadium, Saturday 29th November, 3pm kick off
Form (Last eight Championship matches)
Birmingham City: WDWDLLLD
Nottingham Forest: WWLLLDLD
- Birmingham’s season is looking up following a calamitous start; the Blues are unbeaten in four entering this weekend’s fixtures. Forest have had a similar upturn in form, back to back wins has revitalised Stuart Pearce’s men.
- The previous encounter between these two sides saw Forest edge out a poor game 1-0, with Matt Derbyshire grabbing the winner at the City Ground back in April.
- Three points for Birmingham could lift them as high as 14th in the League table, a miraculous turn around given their start. A Forest victory could launch them back into the Play-Off positions.
Birmingham’s removal of Lee Clark and subsequent appointment of former Burton boss, Gary Rowett has had the desired effect so far. The Blues have won twice and are yet to taste defeat under Rowett. An initial, well earned point against West Midlands rivals, Wolves provided a fantastic platform to build from for the new boss. The future is already looking considerably brighter for the Brummies, Lee Clark never quite had that spark of enthusiasm and confidence which should exude from a top manager.
New signing, and former Forest midfielder, Guy Moussi could be in line to make his Birmingham debut on Saturday; an interesting sub-plot to the main event. Moussi, who spent 6 years on Trentside and made 136 appearances for the Reds, has already made positive headlines, having pledged to donate his wages of his two-month Birmingham contract to four different charities, a wonderful gesture from the Frenchman. He has the quality to contribute towards the Blues’ season, a presence in the centre of midfield and moments of brilliance can change games, unfortunately Moussi never could bring these qualities to the Forest side on a consistent basis.
One of Rowett’s greatest challenges will be turning round Birmingham’s home form which, under Clark, was truly abysmal, culminating in an 8-0 defeat at the hands of Bournemouth. In his first match at St. Andrew’s, Rowett gained a hugely impressive three points against promotion chasing Watford which was then followed by a draw to Cardiff; a promising start for the new gaffer. Nottingham Forest will travel to the West Midlands knowing they will have a fight on their hands against a Blues side full of newly found confidence.
Forest’s barren run has finally been vanquished, with back to back wins against Norwich and then Wolves. Michail Antonio’s last minute strike to see off Norwich may just be a key turning point for the Reds, the relief that poured out of the City Ground following that goal was infectious. This was backed up by Forest’s best result of the campaign so far, a 3-0 win at Wolves. The Reds were relentless, penetrative and ruthless, dominating the game from minute one to ninety; the most complete performance of Stuart Pearce’s reign as of yet.
A vital component of Forest’s Molineux success, was Henri Lansbury, who might finally begin to pull his weight this season. A disappointing campaign for the ex-Arsenal midfielder saw him dropped to the bench for the visit of Norwich to the City Ground, but his performance against Wolves will have restored faith placed in him by Forest fans. When at his best, like last week, Lansbury is unplayable at this level. His loyalty to the club has come into question over recent weeks, after speculation in the summer about a possible move to Burnley, some have suggested his head may have been turned. However, if his performance at Wolves is anything to go by, then Reds fans can sleep easy knowing Lansbury is focused and determined for the club.
A third win in a row for Forest could propel them right back into the promotion fray, which is incredible given the run of results they went on. Nine games without a win so early on in the season would normally see a team fall well into the bottom half, but such has been the Championship season so far, nobody has really taken the mantle and pulled away at the top. This has allowed Forest some time to recover the situation they’d dug themselves into, and this reprieved could now provide them with hope and optimism for the coming months as they look to finally return to the Premier League.
Will Gary Rowett round off a miraculous November with another win? Or can Forest continue to build momentum as we enter the busiest period of the campaign? I believe Forest’s return of confidence should see them over the line, but not without difficulty. 2-1 Forest win for me.