The Easter game sees Blues make a trip to rock bottom Rotherham United as they look to rectify the emotionally charged defeat to Derby County. There’s no better time to record the second away win under Zola. After deserving to win another game where all points were snatched so late on, Zola will know we can not be “unlucky” again and should see today’s opponents as the softest target we will face in the closing stages of this season.
The first game over the Easter weekend comes before hosting Burton on the Monday so a win at the New York stadium will do very well for confidence and a morale boost for the home display against the Brewers.
The Millers, who are the first team in the Championship to be relegated this season following their 1-0 loss to Fulham two weeks ago, are on a ten game consecutive losing streak and haven’t tasted victory since beating Norwich back in January. It’s an absolutely demoralising run that like ourselves, seems to get worse each week.
However, the upper hand may come Blues way in approaching this game. The back line for Rotherham has caved in the most times of any team the season, letting in 93 goals already. At the other end, they have found the net themselves just 35 times giving them the worst goal difference in the league by a considerable amount. As such, the attacking intensity promised in the Zola era should capitalise and strike the decisive blow in this situation.
Though fans will be feeling anxious over excitement, playing such teams gives the opportunity for Zola to make his mark and explore his attack-orientated game play. The Italian will most likely opt for the 3-5-2 system used recently and decide what attacking players will play this, immediate priority game first. Following Che Adams impressive run of late, he is almost certain to start. The 50/50 between Clayton Donaldson and Lukas Jutkiewicz might see the Don win out as he wasn’t chosen in the loss to Derby last Saturday.
Meanwhile the midfield is anyones game. Kieftenbeld and Stephen Gleeson were left out of the starting eleven in the last match as Robert Tesche came in to the side. Both David Davies and Michael Kieftenbeld are powerhouses of sort, giving energy and always providing a high work rate so will at least be given a start between them, if not both. This leaves Robert Tesche, Stephen Gleeson and Craig Gardner as the other candidates who will be looking to make their mark in the central midfield area. The Arsenal loanee Krystian Bielik is likely to start and so is the much more experienced centre half Paul Robinson, though not for both Easter fixtures. Alongside could be Jonathan Grounds or Ryan Shotton but the latter is another player impressing enough not the dropped of late so will fancy his chance of making the back three. This leaves the two wing backs Emilio Nsue and Cheick Keita providing the width and running on the sides.
The only player who is certain not to feature is defender Michael Morrison who is still out following complications after surgery. In the weeks training Clayton Donaldson pick up another injury; this time knee ligament damage which at the moment looks to keep him out of this trip.
The Rotherham squad has handful of injury concerns. Midfielders Lee Frecklington and Tom Adeyemi are looking to be fit ahead of the clash. Versatile winger/fullback Joe Newell could also miss out. Fans may remember Adeyemi from Lee Clarks time as boss who left on sour terms from St.Andrews after the 2013/2014 campaign.
Its set up to be a Good Friday for Blues should they fulfil their attacking capabilities in what is now, a relegation scrap. They’re in no danger of being outplayed by their opponents but should keep one eye on the fact they are down and out and can essentially play without fear. With a perfect opportunity to broaden the gap onto the teams below, is only three points good enough now?