Birmingham City play their third home match in the space of a week as Bolton Wanderers visit St. Andrew`s in tonight’s Championship match-up.
Harry Redknapp`s side got their first win of the season on Saturday, coming from a goal down to beat Bristol City. Bolton, on the other hand, are still awaiting their first win since returning to the second tier after their promotion from League One last campaign- they’ve lost one and drew one of their opening two fixtures.
Blues will throw new signing Isaac Vassell straight into the squad and are boosted by the returning Lukas Jutkiewicz. Redknapp also has Jonathan Grounds and David Davis both back fit and fighting after they were both substituted at half time against Bristol City. The news that Maikel Kieftenbeld`s red card has been rescinded also brings some welcomed news, but Che Adams is out and could well be for a few weeks.
This is a game that Blues should be looking to take maximum points from, but there’s no easy game in the Championship and Bolton will be keen to get their season up and running.
After the horrendously slow start on Saturday, it’s crucial that we get off to a better one this time around. That means that Blues have got to start on the front foot and I’m sure that`s just what Redknapp will be demanding off his players.
Our midfield were overrun in the first half against Bristol City, so it’ll be interesting to see if we decide to stick with two in the middle or switch to a three, as we did in that second half.
A 3-5-2 formation has been deployed by Bolton in their opening two games so it would make sense for Blues to match them with three in the middle. I’d give serious thought to starting David Cotterill in a 4-3-3 set-up to give Blues the width that we lack when Davis starts out wide.
If we`re going to make anything of this season, then we’ve got to be able to take control of games like this so the inclusion of a third central midfielder will certainly help give us that dominance.
With Phil Parkinson likely to start with three centre halves and wing backs, it would make sense for Blues to look to exploit the space left on their flanks.
That’s where the likes of Jacques Maghoma, Cotterill and even Vassell (who can play out wide) become important. It’s going to be extremely difficult to play through their midfield trio, so attacking the wide areas should be a prime target for Blues.
If we can unsettle that back three right from the off, then it will hopefully allow Blues to play positively and with an attacking mind.
I`m expecting a well-organised Bolton side who will look to frustrate Blues from the start and use their front two as outlets when under pressure.
If Blues can combat that, then we`ll hopefully be in for a good night with a second successive league win to show for it ahead of a Friday night trip to Burton.
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The Three Pointer Vs. Bolton