Birmingham City host Fulham at St Andrew’s on Saturday afternoon with both sides looking to push up the Championship table with a win.
The home side have been in moderately good form of late but a defeat last time out to Cardiff City has left Pep Clotet’s side in 12th place, meanwhile the visitors arrive off the back of a 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Hull City.
Fulham sit eighth in the table, but they arrive to the Midlands having won just one of their last five games.
The fixture offers an interesting affair, having seen both sides largely dominate the possession statistics in each of their last two matches, but despite Birmingham having 25 shots on goal against Cardiff last weekend – they failed to win.
Clotet has had a busy week off the field, completing the signing of French attacker Jeremie Bela from Spanish club Albacete, where his contract was terminated.
The lively winger is expected to play some part after receiving international clearance but whether Clotet plays him from the start is questionable.
So, what do we expect to see on Saturday?
A new formation and setup for The Blues
With the added addition of Bela into Clotet’s squad, it will be interesting to see if the Spanish coach changes his approach, having played a 4-4-2 in the last couple of weeks.
Risking a change could be a good thing or a bad thing for Birmingham; having had 100 shots on goal in their last five outings – Clotet must decide on whether to change formation or simply bring in Bela for someone else.
Lukas Jutkiewicz has been Birmingham’s best forward player, having scored four goals this season thus far – but whether him and Bela can play up front together as a two will be interesting to see.
Fulham will look to score early on
Having failed to score in their last two away games, Scott Parker will have his side attacking from the off-set and they will rely heavily on Aleksandar Mitrovic to do that, having seen him score 11 goals already in the Championship this term.
Parker has tried and tested several players either alongside or either side of Mitrovic this season, but he is yet to settle on a consistent option.
The former Chelsea and Fulham midfielder could opt to play Mitrovic in a lone role, but one thing is for sure – he will be going all out to get three points.
Possession to keep scoring to a minimum
Birmingham and Fulham both enjoy possession and keeping the ball, but when facing each other on Saturday – you can argue that both will cancel each other out.
The home side will be cautious in their approach, having allowed Cardiff City to score four goals past them last weekend – whilst Fulham will want to come away from the Midlands with all three points and a clean sheet.
A win for Birmingham would see them move ahead of Fulham, whilst the visitors could push themselves into the play-off places if they other results go their way.