Birmingham City - Fulham

After big injury crisis that caused six competitive defeats in seven games, Alex McLeish has stabilized the squad and although still six players are sidelined they have been noticing a significant improvement in performances. Also, new owner has brought a financial stability and better dressing room atmosphere. As a result, Blues have noticed three league game without a defeat. Bad run was ended against very good Sunderland at St Andrew's (2-1). Then another good result reflected in draw vs. Man.City also at home (0-0) with penalty kick missed. And last encounter was the best performance this season. 2-2 draw at Enfield where Birmingham were very close to win as conceded a late goal from penalty after David Ngog's diving. International brake came in the right time for them to mentally prepare for not so attractive opponent as those three. Key midfielder Barry Ferguson returns to the squad after serving out his one game suspension against Liverpool, while another midfielder Keith Fahey is also back in contention after recovering from an ankle knock. David Murphy (defense), Teemu Tainio (midfield), Garry O'Connor (forward) and Martin Taylor (defense) all miss out.

Roy Hodgson is doing a very good job at Craven Cottage as Fulham made a run of five consecutive games without a defeat. Two home wins (Hull City 2-0 and Liverpool 3-1) and three draws on the road (West Ham United 2-2, Man.City 2-2 (returned from 0-2) and Wigan Athletic 1-1). The biggest problem for Hodgson is “short bench” as he hasn’t enough number of players to play in three competitions. And some key players have been involved in international games. Key winger, Damien Duff, suffered a disaster in France and the question is how much he can focus on Birmingham. Two games also played Pantsil, Dikgacoi and Stephen Kelly. Skipper Danny Murphy and striker Andrew Johnson will be back in training process next week, while excellent striker Diomansy Kamara will also miss the game. American midfielder Clint Dempsey has been playing in excellent shape, scoring three times in last three games. However, I see Fulham as an average Premier League side and current 11th place as the best possible achievement this season.

My sympathy is definitely on home side. Expect the same commitment as in previous games and fight for all three points. Fulham so far is tough side to beat and their three consecutive draws on the road point a decent possibility of another one. So, dnb 1 (about 1.80) and small gamble on home win (Pinnacle 2.50).
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