Date: 31st January 2017 at 12:15pm
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Ah, home sweet home. St. Andrews under the floodlights, there is nothing better. But tonight will be different. Reading arrive in B9 for what will be a pressure cooker of a game for Blues and Gianfranco Zola. Nine winless games in charge would always crank the pressure up a notch. I`m not going to say ‘tonight will be the night` because I have been so wrong about this kind of thing previously.

After Saturday`s defeat to Norwich City, Zola stands on the brink of entering double figures without a win as Birmingham City manager. The law of averages would heavily suggest that a win is due – but football doesn`t work like that.

In between both penalty areas, Blues have been decent. But defensively, we`re abject and from an attacking point of view we`re toothless. It could have been so different. At Carrow Road, the Juke rattled the crossbar seconds before Cameron Jerome put the hosts ahead. At Blackburn, Ryan Shotton was denied a last gasp winner by a superb save. Football is a game of fine margins – Blues are constantly on the wrong side of the margins though.

We all knew that Zola was an attack minded manager so, to a point, defence would be sacrificed as a priority. But Blues aren`t scoring enough goals to allow them to do that. Seven goals in nine games is not a good record but conceding ten in the same period has given Zola a mountain to climb. In some respects, he`s been very lucky. Down the road at Vile Park, they would have had the bed sheets out long before now. Blues fans seem to be a more patient bunch – yet that patience will not last forever.

Reading are flying high in the Championship and their genuine promotion aspirations make them a tough prospect. Like Blues, they like to play football on the deck and attack the opposition. Perhaps that may suit Blues better than a team who comes and parks the bus; it may give them the opportunity to create gaps and little pockets of space.

The formation has been a big talking point recently. Since taking over, more often than not, Zola has opted for a 4-3-3. Historically, he seems to prefer a 3-5-2 which would create a wing-back system largely untried and untested with the current squad. Do Zola`s transfer dealings suggest he`s eventually aiming for that sort of shape?

Football is funny old game with ups and downs. While there has been more downs recently, a few wins would give everyone hope. I can`t see that being tonight though.

As always, Keep Right On!

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