Birmingham City vs Watford Preview: Second Away Win in the Second City?

Fresh off of winning the Manager of the Month award for November, Vladimir Ivic is eager to turn around the below-par form on Watford's travels.

The Serbian Head Coach has seen his side concede the least amount of goals on the road but bizarrely, score the least also. Against a Birmingham side who are typically astute at defending, this may unfortunately be doomed to be goalless.

But Will Hughes' return to full fitness is a considerable boost for the midfield, and Etienne Capoue's likely inclusion on the bench is another positive. The Hornets will have to deal with the loss of Craig Cathcart, who is ruled out until around February. Andre Gray is in line for his first appearance in the Matchday squad since breaking lockdown rules to have a Poker Party in his home, but the hamstring injury he suffered in the win over Preston may mean he is limited to a substitute appearance. Adam Masina's long-term spell on the sidelines is coming to an end, but Ivic has stressed that he will need a long time to reach full fitness, so don't expect to see him at Left Back for a little while.

Other Injury News:

Tom Dele-Bashiru (long-term)

Isaac Success (Nearing a return)

 

The Opposition

Birmingham City have enjoyed defensive stability under former Middlesbrough Head Coach Aitor Karanka, and the Spaniard turned around a 6 match winless run, achieving back to back away victories. Despite Harlee Dean's red card, the Bluenoses defeated Reading thanks to two goals from former Arsenal midfielder Jon Toral, who has enjoyed an advanced midfield role under the management of his compatriot. Barcelona's ex-Wonderkid Alen Halilovic is yet to start in Blue and White, but could be in line to do so at St. Andrew's. 

Birmingham are currently 15th, but 3 points could see them as high as 11th (or 10th, however they'd have to win 12-0). 

Karanka has used a 4-2-3-1 in both of their past two wins, and will surely do so again, in an attempt to end a winless run at home that stretches as far back as the 28th of October.

Aside from Adam Clayton, Birmingham almost have a clean bill of health for the game.

Head-To-Head

Clayton Donaldson netted twice for the home side the last time this tie took place at St. Andrew's. Fernando Forestieri's goal wasn't enough to make up for Donaldson's efforts, as they slumped to a 2-1 defeat.

Craig Cathcart will be disappointed that he can't replicate his heroics from last time out. The Centre-Half is perhaps the least likely to score an overhead kick, and yet he did, and with style. 

Die-hard Birmingham fan Troy Deeney was the last Watford player to score the winner against his boyhood club, doing so in 2013.

 

Who's the Threat?

Birmingham City: Neil Etheridge

Threat to Watford's backline? No, probably not. But if Birmingham are to best Watford, Neil Etheridge will likely be a key reason why. Birmingham were crying out for a new goalkeeper, and the Filipino International fit the bill perfectly, joining from Cardiff City in the summer.

Watford: Troy Deeney

He's certainly got the track record of performing against his hometown club, and you wouldn't bet against him doing it again. I expect a low scoring game, but if there's a name on the Watford scoresheet, I reckon it'll be the Captain.

 

Elliot's Score Prediction:

I've been optimistic about Watford away from home, despite the form not filling me with confidence. I can't look past a goalless draw today purely due to the defensive nature of both sides, but I expect an improvement on the typical performances away from Vicarage Road.

Birmingham City 0-0 Watford 

Kick-Off: 3pm, St. Andrew's Trillion Trophy Stadium

Televised? No, but available on HiveLive and iFollow.

Referee: Matthew Donohue.

 

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