Bristol City v Birmingham | Friday 7th January 2020, 19:45 | Sky Sports
Your Friday night viewing from the Championship comes from Ashton Gate as in-form Bristol City take on an equally hard to beat Birmingham City. It is now five straight league victories for the Robins, all ‘to nil’, whilst the Blues are unbeaten in league action since 1st January.
Before we get right into this contest, here are a few interesting head-to-head statistics regarding this respective encounter:
- Five of the last six has seen both teams score.
- Six of the last seven saw one team win, with only one draw in this time.
- Bristol City have won two of the last four, but also only twice in the most recent 18.
- Birmingham have won on six of their last eight visits to Bristol City.
‘Streaky Johnson’ at it again
A nickname that has been thrown in the direction of Bristol City head coach Lee Johnson has been ‘Streaky Lee’ for a little while now, and for good reason. The simple reasoning for this is because his team tend to go on runs; good or bad. Thankfully for them, they’re in good shape right now, but fans just know that at any moment this can switch in the other direction.
Sure, they’ve won four in a row, but they also lost four Championship games in a row as recently as December. Just before that run they had lost only two in 19 league matches, which is yet more proof of how they can flow from one extreme or the other.
That therefore does make this Bristol City team one we shouldn’t necessarily have maximum faith in. They however haven’t conceded a league goal since the 4-0 home drubbing to Brentford on New Year’s Day, and the addition of Filip Benkovic will only aid them defensively, whilst Tomáš Kalas will also feel like a new recruit when he returns to full fitness.
Losing Josh Brownhill to Burnley was an obvious blow, but adding Nakhi Wells for a cool £5million represents good business.
Blues under the radar
It was surprise most to see Birmingham currently experiencing a decent little unbeaten run. This has somewhat gone under the radar in the Championship, having last lost on New Years’ Day at home to Wigan Athletic. Since then, the highlight came last weekend when coming from behind to beat Nottingham Forest, meaning three of their last four league wins have been a 2-1 score.
I say it is a little bit of a shock that Birmingham are doing alright at the moment considering the general unhappiness from the fan base at their transfer activity around deadline day, or lack of it! They signed Scott Hogan from rivals Aston Villa recently, and he scored on his debut versus Forest.
They did decide to part with the likes of David Davis, Álvaro Giménez and Fran Villalba, and supporters were concerned about a lack of depth.
Star man Jude Bellingham however has remained despite reported interest from Manchester United, who almost certainly will be renewed in the summer. Another slight shock is seeing that Birmingham have lost just one of their last eight away in all competitions, although that did include when being away (at home) to Coventry City!
They’re a tough nut to crack at the moment but having to play a cup replay in the week isn’t ideal preparation for this Friday night clash.
The betting angle
Whilst I’ve touched upon ‘Streaky Lee’ we can’t deny it is tough not to just ride the Bristol City train at the moment. The difference now to previous runs is that they really do look a solid defensive outfit. For all that losing Josh Brownhill takes away a degree of creativity, you could argue they have the best range of centre backs out of any team in this league.
Birmingham are a team that do create plenty of chances (13.1 shots per-game on average), but the reality is that they’re below halfway on the highest scorers in the league chart, and possess one of the worst defensive records.
Bristol City are priced at odds-against in many places and that does surprise me considering they’re at home, regardless of the fact Birmingham are in good form themselves. I’m all over that, and for additional value I’ll include Under 3.5 for a combined 2/1 (Coral).
Twenty of Bristol City’s 30 Championship has finished below this figure, and 24/30 for Birmingham, too.
Bristol City v Birmingham City – Bristol City to win and Under 3.5 Goals (2/1 Coral)