It has been a difficult year for Aitor Karanka and his Birmingham City side, with the Blues’ period of struggle coinciding with Covid restrictions prohibiting fans from attending St Andrew’s.
In the nine games that remained of the 2019/20 season when football resumed in June, Birmingham picked up just three points and avoided relegation by a mere two.
It appears that the situation this season looks just as bleak, with the Blues hovering above the Championship drop by three points.
Despite sitting outside the relegation zone, Rotherham United who sit a position below, have three games in hand and possess a much superior goal difference, should the two teams finish level on points.
Birmingham have not played third tier football in 26 years and will be hopeful of continuing that run for many years to come. The Blues are no strangers to a dramatic relegation escape, after a 93rd minute Paul Caddis equaliser steered the club to safety in the 2013/14 Championship campaign. But, they will be striving to be mathematically safe before their trip to Blackburn Rovers on the final day of the season.
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The Blues host a new-look Bristol City side who have slightly picked up since Nigel Pearson was appointed. On paper, this seems the most winnable game in the next few weeks, with Birmingham set to face four of the top six in the four games that follow, highlighting what a monumental task they have ahead.
A key theme that has emerged this season is Birmingham’s unexpected yet welcomed away form.
Only four teams have lost fewer than the Blues and only Watford and Swansea City have conceded fewer goals.
This away record is even more impressive in the context of the bottom of the table, as the Blues are yet to taste a defeat on the road against a team in the bottom half. If the Blues are to steer clear of the relegation dog-fight, their three remaining away games against teams in the lower half are now extremely important.
Holding the worst home record in the division, Karanka’s side will host six of the remaining 11 fixtures, and their fortunes at St Andrews will be key to their relegation scrap. Their ground-sharing counterparts, Coventry City, find themselves in and amongst the battle too, with their two wins from the last 10 league games, meaning that St Andrews will become a massively important venue in weeks to come.
Birmingham also have the most difficult run-in from a points per game perspective, further emphasising how big of task it will be to avoid relegation.