Luke Turner looks ahead to tonight’s fixture…
Birmingham City welcome Steve Evans and his Leeds United side to St Andrews tonight, looking for a second victory in a row which will leave us six points off those play off spots.
It looked like Blues had blown their chance of a top six place but, with their win at the weekend coupled with other teams losing, there might be a slim chance for Gary Rowett`s side to make a late surge.
But, only a win tonight will really do and Leeds could prove to be tough opponents, even if their 15th position in the table shows otherwise.
United are currently on a four game winless run but did win three in a row prior to that which shows why they aren’t challenging at the top end of the Championship.
They are very inconsistent and that could be down to the high number of young players they have in their side such as Alex Mowatt, Charlie Taylor, Lewis Cook and even ex-Blues striker Chris Wood, who is still only 24 years old.
But, there is no doubt that these youngsters have the quality and ability to play well and match any other team in the league, on their day.
Tonight will prove to be no different and Blues will need to be on their guard to prevent the likes Stuart Dallas, Mirco Antenucci and Toumani Diagouraga.
A positive for Blues tonight is that Liam Bridcutt will be missing for The Whites due to injury. He is a player who could’ve had a big influence on the game with his Premier League experience and ability to control the midfield.
However, there is someone else with a huge presence in midfield, in the shape of ex-Brentford midfielder Diagouraga.
A lot of the work through their midfield will come from him as he is a big, strong, physical unit who can both break up play and start attacks.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Leeds took the initiative in this game, holding onto possession when possible and then getting number forward when attacking.
Gary Rowett will have to make the decision whether or not to stick with the 4-3-3 formation that worked so well at Reading or revert back to 4-2-3-1.
I feel that if we do play with a ‘number 10` behind Lafferty, then they could end up getting crowded out with Leeds packing out the midfield.
Rowett could decide to match what Evans does in order not to get overrun or outnumbered in the centre of the park.
With that in mind, we could see Clayton Donaldson occupy the left wing position once again. It’s fair to say it didn’t work against Brighton but on Saturday, with the extra midfielder, he took a more narrow position and it worked wonders.
Ryan Shotton should keep hold of his place in the heart of the defence after his man of the match display the other day which was crowned off with his first goal for the club.
His aerial presence will be of advantage in both boxes, especially as I think that set pieces could play a big part in the game.
This could be the very last chance for Blues to get a win that could see them within a slight chance of finishing in the top six.
It is pretty much all or nothing for Rowett`s men so there is no reason why they can’t go for it, play with freedom and, hopefully, reap the rewards.