Championship Preview: Nottingham Forest vs Birmingham City

The City Ground, Saturday 19th April 2014 3PM kick off

Form (Last 8 Championship games)

Nottingham Forest: LDLDLLDD

Birmingham City: LWLWLLDL

  • Forest’s loss to QPR on Saturday extended their winless run to 12 in the Championship and was their 7th loss in 11. Birmingham are suffering from a poor run of form aswell, their defeat by Middlesbrough last midweek was their 6th loss in 9 games, leaving them hovering worryingly close the drop zone.
  • The last meeting of the two was a drab 0-0 at St Andrews in mid December. Both teams were restricted to few shots on goal; we will be hoping of a much livelier affair on Saturday.
  • Up until their visit to the Riverside, the Blues had won their previous 2 away games at fellow strugglers Millwall and Doncaster. The City Ground, meanwhile, has become a promising venue for away teams to come and pick of points, Forest are winless in 6 in Nottingham.

Forest’s promotion dream is all but over for yet another season, it would seem, and the fans now look to the next campaign as their only real source of optimism. Although the top six isn’t mathematically out of reach for the Reds it would take a near miracle for them to, firstly, win their 4 remaining games and, secondly, for the clutch of teams above them to drop a sufficient amount of points. As late as February automatic promotion looked a real possibility for the Midlanders, but this run of 12 games without victory has put an end to them hopes and, subsequently, the Play-Offs too are far in the distance.

Many believe that without the longest injury list in the country this end of season capitulation would have never occured. However, performances like Saturday against QPR show that the Reds have and have had enough to compete with the best this league has to offer. Thy showed fight, determination and the odd dash of quality to push the Rs all the way, the 5-2 final score was a colossus flattery. Twice coming from behind to equalise against a team such as QPR is an indicator of what this team is capable of, but the last 5 minutes also shows the other side of Forest. A naive ending to the game saw them concede 3 goals in lightening quick succession and end any hope of leaving with a point.

Saturday’s game should be an entirely contrasting encounter to that which the Reds have faced recently. Forest are now free to release their pressurised shackles; which could provide either a positive or negative effect. With most of the injuries cleared up Forest can now enjoy a relaxed end to the season, I’m sure they would’ve dreamed of more but at least they can look forward to Stuart Pearce’s arrival in the Summer and start again for the next campaign.

Birmingham’s season has been another one of turmoil, not yet safe from the League 1 trapdoor, Saturday could be a crucial occasion for the Blues. Financial crisis and a dodgy owner has caused much concern for the St Andrews faithful, who saw their side reach the Play-Offs just two seasons ago under Chris Hughton. However, the constant sale of talent such as Curtis Davies and Jack Butland has left Lee Clark with a very difficult job on his hands.

The visitors suffered somehow suffered a humiliating 3-1 defeat last time out against Middlesbrough after the hosts were reduced to just 9 men. Lee Clark has looked a broken man at times throughout this season and has had to suffer some fan unrest which, performances like this particular one up at the Riverside, does not help. One positive of the defeat was an Emyr Huws 35 yard rocket, the Welsh loanee from Manchester City has enjoyed a successful loan spell at the club and has a bright future ahead of him.

The three points on Saturday would surely see Birmingham safe from any potential threat of relegation. Forest could be stern opposition for the Brums and I’m sure Lee Clark will be reminding his player of that. They will take hope from other relegation rivals such as Millwall and Charlton picking up victories at the City Ground though.

I believe that Forest will be able to play with a freedom which they have not experience in a long time, that along with the return of a few key names should see them have to quality to see off Birmingham this Saturday. I’ll go for a 2-0 Forest triumph.

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