By Nick Teale
 
Having gained promotion from the Championship last season, Birmingham City have by far exceeded all pre-season expectations.
 
Bookmakers made Alex McLeish's side odds-on to be relegated this season. But the Blues reached the 40-point mark with 11 games to spare.
 
Their home form has been exceptional. St Andrew's regulars have seen their side concede just 10 home League goals this term, and their current 11-game unbeaten home run includes draws with Chelsea and Manchester United.
 
So just how much have Birmingham surprised themselves this season? We spoke to Colin Tattum of the Birmingham Mail to find out.

FOCUS - THE STORY SO FAR

THE STORY SO FAR
"Coming up from the Championship they have exceeded all expectations this season. Not just outside the club, but within the club as well. Last time they were in the Premier League they had a very good home record as well but tended to lose the games that mattered. But now not only are they strong at St Andrew's but they've been very resilient away from home too."

FOCUS - REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL

REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
"This is a key moment for them because they are very safe [from relegation] but European qualification is beyond them. So it is possibly a bit of a problem motivation-wise. But in fairness to Alex McLeish and the players, they haven't thrown the towel in during any game and it doesn't look as if they are on their holidays just yet. They have always been competitive in every game and have not once been taken to the cleaners this season."

FOCUS - CAUSE FOR CONCERN

CAUSE FOR CONCERN
"The defeat at Blackburn [on Wednesday] was disappointing. Neither side perhaps deserved to win it and Blackburn got a couple of breaks and Birmingham didn't really fire as they can. There have been a few games like that this season but in the main Birmingham have been in every game that they have played. They have a good set of characters in the dressing room. They are winners, so they have a good mentality.
"It is too easy to say they lost because they weren't motivated. That wasn't the case, there were just a couple of lapses in concentration that cost them and Birmingham had most of the possession and played most of the football. They just couldn't find an end product."

FOCUS - TALKING TACTICS

TALKING TACTICS
"McLeish doesn't have that many options to be honest and has tended to keep a fairly settled side this season. Ultimately it will be the usual suspects who will go into the game on Saturday."

FOCUS - THE MAN IN CHARGE

THE MAN IN CHARGE
"McLeish is a very good manager. If you look at his track record, he managed under a high-pressure situation at Rangers and also as manager of the Scottish national side. I am sure there are a few clubs looking on with interest at the work he has done at Birmingham. This is his first full season in the Premier League since moving from Scotland, and in my opinion he is a very good manager and a very shrewd tactician. It would not surprise me at all if in time he gets a bigger job than the Birmingham City post."

FOCUS - SUMMER SPENDING

SUMMER SPENDING
"It is definitely going to be an interesting summer. There are a lot of players who are going to be out of contract and the management have made no secret of the fact that they need to bring in five or six players just to replace those. They are looking to buy quality and quality costs money and we believe there will be a considerable amount of money made available. So these are exciting times at St Andrew's at the moment. There is very much a feel-good factor around the place."

Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 26 Mar 2010