Even though there is just nine points separating the two teams at the moment, the situation at the two camps is completely opposite. Birmingham City are fighting for their lives after the dismal run of results, whereas Bolton are still in the race for the European places, which only goes to show how impressive the Trotters have been this term.
Brum sinking further down
Following some impressive showings last term, nobody expected Birmingham to enter the relegation race this season, especially after the club brought several pretty good players in the summer. It seemed that the new signings had disrupted the balance of the squad as the Blues largely struggled in the opening rounds and never seem to manage to hit the ground running. Alex McLeish’s side, however, largely impressed in their Carling Cup campaign, eventually winning the competition by beating Arsenal in the final, but they just kept slipping down the Premier League standings and are now in a very precarious position. Brum now have a hard time improving their results as the players never really expected to be fighting for survival and the lack of confidence is starting to get to them. The hosts will be under extreme pressure to win this match after picking up just one point from last four league games and that is likely to have a negative effect on the squad.
Scott Dann, Alex Hleb, Keith Fahey and James McFadden remain sidelined, but Lee Bowyer and Nikola Zigic should return to contention. Boss Alex McLeish has admitted that some of his players are running on empty at the moment, which only adds to the worries.
Bolton continue to impress
Bolton have shown a massive improvement under Owen Coyle, who has managed to get this team playing the way he wants them to, and Trotters have been thoroughly impressive this season. Not even the oldest of Bolton fans can remember the last time when their beloved team managed to outplay sides like Manchester United and Chelsea, and that is exactly what happened this season. The Trotters were unlucky to lose at both Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford after outplaying their more illustrious opponents, but even the good performances at the two grounds are enough to give the players a confidence boost. Owen Coyle’s side have also shown a big improvement on the travels, winning three of their last five away games, and seeing they enter this match without any pressure, Bolton look like a good bet to get something from this match.
Stuart Holden, Mark Davies, Sean Davis, Zat Knight and Sam Ricketts are all out with injuries.
Birmingham have been in terrible form of late and seeing they will be under big pressure in this match, I don’t see how the Blues will be able to match high-flying Bolton. The Trotters continued their rich vein of form by outplaying Manchester United and they are bound to take at least one point from this match.
Our prediction: Bolton to win with 0:0 Asian handicap
Odds: 2.10 (11/10)
Bookmaker: Paddy Power