Birmingham v Swansea | Friday 2nd April 2021, 20:00 | Sky Sports
Your Good Friday football viewing culminates in a top versus bottom style encounter from the Championship as Birmingham entertain Swansea at St Andrews.
The Blues have a won one, lost one record since former player Lee Bowyer returned to the club in the dugout, both of which were also against promotion contenders, whilst Swansea have been licking their wounds over the international break following a home loss to arch rivals Cardiff City. It is almost exactly two years since Swansea last lost three games in a row.
With a trip to Brentford to come next week, Birmingham will be hoping to get out of this tough run of fixtures with a decent points return, and it could be argued three points from Reading at home and Watford away was a decent return.
Given Swansea’s vulnerability at present, Bowyer will see this as a winnable contest, especially with his side now looking a little more comfortable and ultimately happier within themselves compared to the backend of the Aitor Karanka era.
For all that a 3-0 loss against Watford looks like a hammering on paper, they still had their moments and never gave up. It could be argued that’s exactly what they would have done under the former manager, even more so considering they fell behind inside five minutes.
Bowyer will have been quite glad to utilise the international break to impose more of his methods and ideas onto the group, so we may now start to really see the Bowyer Birmingham moving forward. Having said that, it is all about results at this point of the campaign.
As I touched upon, Swansea aren’t in their best place at present. Two defeats in a row won’t have done much for confidence, even if their performance against Cardiff deserved much more. They still conceded a poor goal via a set piece however, and against Bournemouth they looked a shadow of themselves defensively.
Clean sheets have been a big part of their success so far, and they’re ranked joint-top in the league in relation to amount of shutouts. One clean sheet in seven therefore will be of great concern, and they take on a Birmingham outfit who has scored 2+ in two of their last three at home.
With this being the international break, many players will have been sent across all over the world to represent their countries, and it is fair to say Swansea have suffered from that more than Birmingham heading into this Good Friday clash.
Birmingham saw Jeremie Bela appeared for Angola, but the remainder of the squad remained at home. Steve Cooper however would have been sweating more than Lee Bowyer over this period as he saw Marc Guehi, Jamal Lowe, Connor Roberts, Ben Cabango and Andre Ayew all play games. These aren’t fringe players at all, so Birmingham do have a little bit of an advantage going into this one.
With that being the case I think Swansea could be slow-starting here, plus Bowyer really had his team out the blocks against Reading and whilst they conceded early at Watford he’ll be eager for his side to make the most of this opportunity, of which circumstances give them a bigger than usual edge.
You can get around 11/8 on Birmingham scoring the first goal, but I’m prepared to chance bigger odds on Birmingham Leading After 30 Minutes, with is priced 15/4 (William Hill).
On the whole, I just can’t be having Swansea at the minute. They’re not convincing enough to be too sound on their prospects right now. I do expect them to get their act back together eventually, but Cooper has been mentioning the heavy schedule a bit too much for my liking and given they have a small squad anyway, it just gives off the wrong vibe, even if there is some truth to it.
Bowyer will just insist his side get on with it, and now they’ve gone back to basics a bit by getting Lukasz Jutkiewicz back in the team I fancy them to be awkward opposition for the Welsh side. Birmingham +0.25 on the Asian Handicap is priced 17/20 (Bet365) and I just want to find a way of getting them on side.
Birmingham v Swansea – Birmingham Leading After 30 Minutes (15/4 William Hill)
Birmingham v Swansea – Birmingham +0.25 Asian Handicap (17/20 Bet365)