PREVIEW: Birmingham City vs Reading

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Birmingham City will look to start the 2015/16 campaign on a high, by taking all 3 points off Steve Clarke’s Royals, at St.Andrews this Saturday afternoon.

Heading into the first match of the season, Bcfc Followers decided to take up the question of: “What is your honest prediction of a league table finish”? We thank you for the numerous replies, and collected the answers together. We had some optimistic and pessimistic predictions. There were just 3 fans out of the 25 that replied, who think that Blues will make the play offs. The average position came back at 10th-11th.

Head to Head

The Blue Boys are completely deadlocked with the Royals. WINS-10 DREW-10 LOST-10. There was no deadlock of any kind in this fixture last season. Birmingham produced, arguably, there best performance of the season. A 6-1 thrashing was as a result of Demarai Gray’s first senior hat trick in the first half. He recently posted on Twitter: “Can’t wait for next Saturday. The big one”. Other scorers that day included, Caddis, Shinnie & Cotterill.

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Demarai Gray in action on Saturday

Birmingham Team News

Pre-season was mediocre for Blues, however there are no points contested, so there is no cause for concern. Birmingham should head into the first game of the season with no injury concerns and a battle for places, to be in the starting line-up. However I think the team pretty much picks itself, with the exception of the two holding defensive midfielders.

One things for sure, Rowett will look to build upon the fierce counter attacking style, the Blues possessed last season. Here is what he had to say in his post-match interview versus Leicester: “I think it was the first time in pre-season, due to the quality of the opposition, that we had an opportunity to get our shape and be patient and that helped us”.

The New Boys

The new boy from Holland, Maikel Kieftenbald, has certainly done himself no harm in Rowett’s eyes. Since arriving at the club, he may definitely occupy one of the two defensive midfielders position Saturday. Rowett on Maikel Kieftenbald performance against Leicester: “Maikel showed what he’s showed us in training. I think he looks a terrific player. Very, very composed on the ball, he picks up good position defensively”.

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Maikel Kieftenbeld battling with Leicester's Riyad Mahrez

The other new boy, Toral, will be thrilled to be at Birmingham City after previously playing for Barcelona and Arsenal…. His words upon signing: “Barcelona and the Nou Camp is a great club, but I have always dreamt about putting on a blue shirt, and playing at St.Andrews”. Toral obviously never said this, but it would have been great if he did. All jokes aside, he looks one hell of a player. After a serious knee injury from the ages of 16-18, the fact Arsenal have still gave him a chance, proves his ability alone. I watched his ‘Best Actions’ for Brentford last season and he the type of player who glides on the ball with his left foot, similar to Wilshere & Matic. I think tomorrows match may have come to soon for Toral to be starting, but I expect him to be a vital player this season as Birmingham hope to go one better than 10th and push for play offs.

Reading Team News

Steve Clarke has made four summer signings. Orlando Sa, Stephen Quinn, Paul McShane and the goalkeeper Al-Habsi. The Royals had a fairly decent pre-season with draws against Swansea & Espanyol. Full back Jordan Obita may be banned following his sending off against Espanyol. In the same match, striker, Pavel Pogrebnyak also picked up a knock 25 minutes which resulted in him coming off, so he also may be a doubt.

Clarke is waiting until 3pm Saturday to announce his captain for the season. A decision which could go either way. Although Clarke stated: I’ve been moving the armband around and the point I’m trying to show by doing this, is that I don’t want just one captain. I want five, six, seven leader on the pitch”. Maybe he is attempting a different approach to last season where his side finished 19th.

Possible Team Line ups

Birmingham City Fc- 4-2-3-1          Kuszczak
Caddis- Morrison-Spector-Grounds
Kieftenbald-Gleeson
Cotterill-Shinnie-Gray
Donaldson

Reading Fc- 4-4-2                           
Al- Habsi
Gunter- Hector- Ferdinand- McShane
Blackman- Williams- Norwood- Quinn
Cox- SA

Interview with Reading Supporter David Readingfc Andrews (BCFC Fan Talk)

Who is the man to watch out for Saturday and why?

Tarique Fosu, he’s 19. Quick, tricky feet and he makes defences nervous with his pace. He’s got a decent cross on him too.

Who’s your weak link and why?

Maybe Jordan Obita defensively he can be found out sometimes but going forward is his main strength. He plays at LB.
Started out as a winger.

Have you got any injury news?

Pavel Pogrebnyak has a slight niggle that he picked up against Espanyal at the weekend. Garath McCleary has an injury that will keep him out til September, that he picked up at the copa America.

Your predicted line up & formation ?

Think we’ll have Al Habsi in Goal. Gunter RB A. Ferdinand, M. Hector CBs. J. Obita. LB
T. Fosu RM S. Quinn, D. Williams. CM. Robson Kanu. LM. Orlando Sa, S. Cox ST
But maybe 4 4 2, or 4 5 1. bringing Cox back a bit.

What’s your opinions on Gary Rowett & the Blues team?

I think he’s done an amazing job to be fair. From where you were when he arrived. He’s been amazing. The team I think are decent and think will probably build on from last season. After Saturday. Lol! But seriously I think you’re a good side on your day.
What’s your prediction for the game & our league position?
1-1. But hopefully a Royals win 3-1 Think you could be Top 10.

Bcfc Followers Score PredictionA tight match with Birmingham just edging it. 1-0

Birmingham fans- Where do you think we will finish this season? And predictions for Saturdays match?

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