By Giuseppe Muro
Arsenal welcome Birmingham City to Emirates Stadium on Saturday and after a defeat in their last home game against West Brom, Arsène Wenger will be looking for his team to bounce back against the Blues.
But can Alex McLeish’s men, who have scored just once in their last four game, cause the Gunners problems as their Midlands rivals did?
We spoke to Colin Tattum of the Birmingham Mail to get a Birmingham perspective on this weekend's clash.
CAUSE FOR CONCERN
Scoring once in the last four games has been a problem that we’ve had not just this season but in previous seasons as well. Whereas last season defensively as a unit they were very good but they have conceded a few goals this time around. It’s something Alex McLeish is admitting himself is a problem and he is still searching for the right combinations in the attacking third of the field. There’s possibly a chance Nikola Zigic will start because he’s only started one Premier League game so far. He has basically been coming off the bench when games are either there to be won or saved so it hasn’t been the easiest introduction for him. Alex has said that places are still up for grabs but he needs to see a lot more in training and in matches.
It’s important to stress it was only a minority [that booed the team after a defeat against Everton in their last game]. The fact was they lost at home for the first time in a year. They had set a league record for league games undefeated at St Andrews and Alex was frustrated with the performance. That was mainly what the fans were complaining about, they felt there was a lack of goalmouth action and penetration. It may have galvanised everybody to pull together this weekend if anything.
IMPRESSIONS OF ARSENAL
Highbury and now the Emirates hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Birmingham City and they will make sure they set up their team the right way. Not only to stop Arsenal but also to give them a chance of getting something out of the game. They are struggling for goals and are in a little bit of a sticky patch so more than anything they need a good performance. A performance that will give them confidence going into the forthcoming weeks.
Ironically two of their key men will be missing. Craig Gardner has done extremely well for them in midfield but he will be suspended and James McFadden got injured when he was coming into his own. Barry Ferguson makes them tick and is a very key player for them. Ben Foster has done very well coming in to replace Joe Hart and the centre halves are the real backbone of the team.
ARSENAL OLD BOYS
They will be looking for Alexander Hleb to provide them with something at the top end of the pitch although he’s not quite found his rhythm or his fitness just yet. Sebastian Larsson will feature and he’s been a very willing and honest soldier for them down the right. This season he is back in the form of two years ago. Everyone knows what they are going to get from Seb and he is an integral part of this team Alex has got at the moment.