A Prezzie From the Ginger Santa?
Date: Friday 21st December 2007With the halfway point of the season rapidly approaching, the Wanderers are desperate for points, and this weekend we see a match with Birmingham, themselves in an unwanted position.
In a weekend with several struggling clubs playing each other, both clubs need three points to keep on the right side of the thick black line newspaper editors will soon be adding to their league tables.
The Blues have taken four points from nine since Alex McLeish took over, and the match will by no means be easy. They have scored early goals in their recent matches, and with Bolton yet to win a game this season having conceded first, the defence needs to keep tight. Birmingham come to the Reebok with a changed team from their last visit – only three of the eleven who played on the closing day two seasons ago played in the draw with Reading last weekend.
One of those is goalkeeper Maik Taylor. The experienced Northern Ireland international recently reached a 500-appearance career milestone, though he has been conceding a lot of goals against Premiership strikers this season. The defence is made up of younger players, the oldest to start against Reading being the 27-year-old Brazilian Rafael Schmitz. They do have Premiership experience, though former Villa player Liam Ridgewell is suspended, giving the possibility of seeing former Wanderer Radhi Jaidi in action.
The midfield again is mainly made from players joining in the Championship season, though Damien Johnson remains from their last Premiership campaign. Recent signing Olivier Kapo is joint top scorer this season, and is expected to return after missing a few matches through illness.
Up front, one dangerman is Finn Mikael Forssell. The former Chelsea star, initially joining on loan some years back, has already scored three goals this season, and we need to hope our own Finn can keep him and teammate Cameron Jerome from scoring.
Manager Alex McLeish achieved a lot with Scotland, with the side just missing out on Euro 2008 qualification. He faces a tough challenge to keep the Blues in the Premiership, but has already won away at Tottenham, and the Whites will by no means have an easy game.
The reverse fixture in September finished with a 1-0 victory for the Midlands side from a Kapo goal. With both sides under new management, the Whites need revenge.
I predict a cagey 1-0 home victory, with both sides eventually staying up. With both teams desperate for points, I see a physical fighting game that may not be enjoyable to watch – but 'All I want for Christmas is my… three points'.
As Bing Crosby said a time or two, I’m dreaming of a White Christmas!