VINCE BLISSETT (@Vince_RFC) made a winning start to his coverage of live Championship games for WLB on Monday. He's back to attack Friday night's derby date from Molineux.
Wolves v Birmingham | Friday 19:45 | Sky Sports 1
Gianfranco Zola takes his troops and recently acquired vote of confidence the short distance to Wolves to kick-off the weekend’s Football League action on Friday night.
Sky have a bumper four-game Championship program over the weekend, unfortunately this is comfortably the worst looking of the quartet on paper.
Wolves tricky to assess
Wolves are a hard team to assess; I’ve yet to figure out this season if they are a good team but underachieving, bang average or just not very good – perhaps Wolves fans can enlighten me a little?
You take a glance down the names on the squad list and the defence looks pretty decent, midfield not so much but the attacking options available should be the envy of most of the league.
The thing that does jump out to me though is that the average age is very low, third-lowest in the division so maybe that’s part of the problem.
Four wins from 15 attempts, 18 goals scored and 24 conceded on home soil in the Championship starts to explain thing – only Wigan have a worse home record. Paul Lambert has come out this week and said a mentality change is needed and it’s hard to disagree with that.
Of course they had a good FA Cup run, beating Liverpool at Anfield which followed on from an decent-ish run of results. From Anfield a very good win at Barnsley followed a few days later but since then losses have been the name of the game.
A defeat at Burton followed by two 1-0 defeats at home to Newcastle and Wigan is hardly inspiring stuff but they put up a good fight against Chelsea last weekend.
The question is did minds wander towards the upcoming cup tie? Who knows, but logic would say it probably had a hand in the poor league form.
Birmingham have gotten the Blues
The whole Gary Rowett/Gianfranco Zola drama needs no introduction – whatever you think about the whole thing though, it’s done and should be forgotten about. He’s been given that dreaded vote of confidence but I hope the owners do give him a chance personally.
The situation Zola walked into wasn’t his fault and the club would be silly to move their number one choice on without giving him so much as a chance. Bottom line is Birmingham aren’t going up nor down, same as under Rowett, so give him pre-season and time to build.
It appears as though performances haven’t been that bad but the confidence throughout the team is shot. That’s understandable with a few bad results to start the Zola reign mixed with the scrutiny placed on the club.
It’s well documented the run the Blues are on; they come into this game off the back of a heavy defeat to QPR last weekend, not a good result whichever angle you take.
Under Zola, Birmingham have kept just the two clean sheets in 14 games whilst conceding 25 along the way. Only one win has arrived in those 14 too – against 10-man Fulham a few weeks ago to go along with three draws.
The betting angle
Over the whole season City have kept two clean sheets away from St Andrews, so Wolves will fancy their chances of getting on the scoresheet. On the flip side, Birmingham will see this as an opportunity against a Wolves team in poor form.
The question for Wolves is now that the cup run is over, can they carry that level of performance over into the league? Tough one to answer but you couldn’t choose a better game to start the final segment of the season.
A local derby, opposition on bad form, under the lights and in front of an expected bumper ground due to half price tickets – it’s the perfect chance to get back on track and I think they will do just that.
I’ve spent quite a while deliberating which way to get Wolves onside but ultimately I’m going be sensible and go the route of backing a Wolves win at 37/40 (BetVictor).
Wolves v Birmingham – Wolves to win (37/40 BetVictor)