Sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and admit that you were beaten by the better team.
Derby’s second half display on Saturday would have left most sides in the division chasing shadows, the quality of their first goal summing up a side bang in form and full of confidence. For Blues, it was a game too far.
Garry Monk’s side have regularly been praised this season for their ability to scrap, fight and earn results against the odds but few sides in the Championship can create and shift the opposition out of shape like Derby. Our unbeaten run was always going to come to an end and it says more about Derby than Blues.
Last Saturday may prove to be a blessing in disguise in many ways. It dampens expectations ahead of this weekend’s clash with Hull City who remain in the bottom three despite beating Bolton Wanderers and West Bromwich Albion in their last two outings.
The Tigers have endured a difficult beginning, but it appears that performances have improved since their drab season-opener against Steve Bruce’s Villa. According to their local paper, their recent victories have been fully deserved and reward for improved performances of late.
Nigel Adkins is an uber-positive individual but that is being tested during difficult circumstances. Results have often bypassed good performances and cost-cutting measures have left him with an inexperienced side, tasked with bringing joy to supporters despite them waging war with the club’s owners.
Still, it’s evident that the ex-Southampton and Scunthorpe United boss has worked hard on making his side harder to beat, evidenced by a run of seven games in which neither they or their opposition have scored more than one goal. In their opening nine matches, they conceded more than once on six occasions.
Adkins has already confessed that the same group will play at St.Andrews meaning Hull will again set up in a 4-3-3 system that has reaped rewards. Reece Burke and Eric Lichaj have offered solidity at full-back while young Daniel Batty provides tenacity to a midfield also containing Markus Henriksen and Jackson Irvine. In attack, pace is the name of the game with Fraizer Campbell, Kamil Grosicki and Jarrod Bowen around.
Blues’ attempts to earn victory have been initially hindered by the loss of Gary Gardner who has become a figure of consistency in the Blues midfield. Craig Gardner could return to the starting XI for the first time since his red card against Middlesbrough, or Charlie Lakin could receive the nod. Whoever plays Saturday could well start at Villa Park after the international break.
Midfield changes aside, Blues will set up the same as they do every week. And after defeat last weekend, expect a high-tempo start that will hopefully bring about an early goal. Hull won’t be as giving as they were in March, but perform as we can and a result should follow.
Blues will be without Gary Gardner for the first time since he joined the club after he picked up his fifth yellow card at the weekend. Craig Gardner returned to the squad last weekend and could make his first start since his red card at Middlesbrough. Jacques Maghoma is unlikely to feature while David Davis and Isaac Vassell are still sidelined.
Nigel Adkins has advised that he will go with the same group that beat West Bromwich Albion last time out. Stephen Kingsley and Evandro were two players earmarked for returns but look set to wait until after the international break. Angus MacDonald is out until March while Nouha Dicko suffered a setback while playing for the U23’s.
Birmingham City: 10th
Overall: Played 16; Won 5, Drawn 8, Lost 3; For 20, Against 17, GD 3; Points 23
Last six at home: Played 6; Won 3, Drawn 3, Lost 0; For 11, Against 6, GD 5; Points 12
Most starts: Colin, Morrison, Dean, Pedersen, Jota, Jutkiewicz – 16
Most goals: Lukas Jutkiewicz – 9
Worst discipline: Maikel Kieftenbeld – 3 yellow cards & 1 red card
Hull City: 23rd
Overall: Played 16; Won 4, Drawn 3, Lost 9; For 13, Against 21, GD -8; Points 15
Last six away: Played 6; Won 1, Drawn 0, Lost 5; For 2, Against 9, GD -7; Points 3
Most starts: David Marshall – 16
Most goals: Fraizer Campbell & Jarrod Bowen – 4
Worst discipline: Fraizer Campbell, Jordy de Wijs & Markus Henriksen – 4 yellow cards
Last five played:
Blues 3-1 Rotherham United
Stoke City 0-1 Blues
Blues 2-1 Reading
Blues 3-1 Sheffield Wednesday
Derby County 3-1 Blues
Sheffield United 1-0 Hull City
Hull City 1-1 Preston North End
Bristol City 1-0 Hull City
Bolton Wanderers 0-1 Hull City
Hull City 1-0 West Bromwich Albion
When we last met:
Birmingham City 3-0 Hull City
Garry Monk secured his first Birmingham City victory in emphatic style as his new-look side thrashed Hull City at St.Andrews.
The visitors were clearly disorganised by the snow falling down on the hallowed turf and were behind pretty quickly as Jutkiewicz and Adams linked up to find Jota alone in the area to slot home his first St.Andrews goal. Adams followed up a first-half overhead kick with a wonderful fluke in the second, twisting and turning before his cross looped over Hull keeper Allan McGregor. Jota later grabbed his second and Blues’ third after Markus Henriksen’s challenge on Adams fell kindly into his path. A huge victory that would set up an impressive survival.
Opposition Player to Watch: Jackson Irvine
Irvine is in that bracket of midfielders that aren’t really midfielders. He’s okay on the ball, he enjoys the odd tackle but it feels like he’s always more of a danger to the opposition in the final third, sometimes more than his team-mates. Irvine is a tall, engaging midfielder, one who wins aerial duels and makes runs in behind. He is one of three Hull players to score more than one goal this season and Blues’ new midfield partnership will need to keep tabs on the Australian.
Birmingham City 3-1 Hull City
Blues’ next five fixtures:
25/11/2018: Aston Villa (A) – 12:00
28/11/2018: Millwall (A) – 19:45
01/12/2018: Preston North End (H) – 15:00
08/12/2018: Bristol City (H) – 15:00
15/12/2018: Blackburn Rovers (A) – 15:00