Newcastle United have suffered two avoidable defeats in the leauge recently. They’ll be looking to bounce back quickly to avoid losing the top spot in the Championship. Newcastle take on Birmingham City at St. James Park on Saturday. The last time the teams met was in 2011 in the Premier League, with Newcastle coming away with a 2-1 victory. Rafa Benitez will be hoping to, once again, come out victorious against the Blues.
Lifelong Blues supporter, Alexander, was kind enough to answer a few questions for us, regarding Birmingham. Here is what he had to say.
Hi Alexander. Could you please tell me who your star players are? Who should United look out for?
I believe our danger men are as follows. Che Adams. The young versatile forward hasn’t started as many games as blues fans would have liked recently. His pace and power is enough to trouble anyone in the league. And it seems as though he has a good end product for someone who is playing his first season at this level. I expect us to play him as our number 10 because we’ll need some pace in our side. We’ll need someone to take the ball up the pitch at speed or run the channels, as we won’t be able to pass our way around Newcastle.
Clayton Donaldson is another threat. I think we’ll go with Clayt’s as our lone striker. He gets himself into some great areas and on his day he is very difficult to play against, but he just can’t seem to finish his chances recently. He’s also a player that runs the channels very well and does a very good job at holding the ball up. He lays it off to our wingers, which is always a good thing. Donaldson is one of our key players in my opinion.
Could you tell me where you realistically think you’ll end up in the league come the end of the season?
I hate to say it but I think this season we’ll end up like the last. We will be in and around the playoffs and then just fall short at the end. It seems like the lads have a real togetherness which makes up for some of the lack of quality. We don’t want to ruin that, so lots of new players aren’t needed, but we could do with adding a quality left back and a quality winger or striker. Then we may be able to compete for the whole season. I hope we do have a successful season, but something tells me that won’t happen.
Are there any Newcastle players that worry you? Who do you see as a threat?
Unfortunately for us, Shelvey’s suspension has been rescinded. He’s the biggest threat in your team. His range of passing will kill us and he’ll have a lot of the ball throughout the game. Another obvious player we need to try to deal with is Gayle. Shotton and Morrison have a real job on their hands, but they work very well together. I’m sure they can at least limit him to less chances than he’s used to. Our weakest area defensively is definitely our left side. With the quality of Ritchie and Yedlin overlapping with their pace, we could be in real trouble.
Could you try and describe Birmingham’s style of play?
Our style of play is definitely not attractive, some would even say boring! It’s based on a solid back four with full backs who don’t tend to bomb on too much. Lots of long balls and crosses as we have to play to our big striker’s strengths. We spend a lot of time without the ball and our passing game isn’t great, so we have to play a different way. Last season we had the lowest average possession and the lowest amount of passes made in the league. This season it’s got a little better, but we’re not going to dominate too many teams in the league. We rely on a good defensive display and one or two goals to win the game.
Try your best to predict the Birmingham line-up for Saturday’s game
4-2-3-1. Kuszczak, Cogley, Shotton, Morrison, Grounds, Cotterill, Tesche, Kieftenfeld, Adams, Stewart, Donaldson.
To finish, tell me your score prediction
I’m going to go for a 1-1 draw with Gayle and Adams to score.
I would like to thank Alexander for taking his time to answer my questions, and the best of luck to them, after they’ve played us.