Manchester City welcome Birmingham to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday for their FA Cup 3rd round clash. The blues are in fine form after a difficult start, and go into the match on the back of a 2-0 victory at Old Trafford which sent City to Wembley.
They face a Birmingham side struggling in the wrong half of the table, just four points off the relegation zone, and the second city blues will no doubt welcome the FA Cup tie as a distraction from their perilous position.
The visitors have won just five games this season, and two of those wins came in their last ten matches. However, they have also suffered six defeats in that period, which included a 4-0 home thrashing by fellow strugglers Derby County.
Three of those five wins have been on the road; a 2-1 win at Preston in October, followed by wins at Reading and Bristol City in December, however they have lost five of their previous six matches. They have scored 17 goals in 23 matches so far this season, but by conceding 29 gives them a goal difference of -12 – only Wycombe Wanders with -19 are worse.
The last time City hosted Birmingham in he FA Cup, the blues ran out 3-2 winners in January 2001. Since then, Birmingham have won just three matches, all at St Andrews and the last time they won on City soil was April 1998, 1-0 at Maine Road as City headed for the trap door.
There have been 10 matches in Manchester since that day, with the blues winning 8, with the other two ending in goalless draws.
Birmingham have struggled for goals this season, which is evident as their top scorer has only scored two goals. Well, in fact they have seven players all on two goals, and the biggest threat is likely to come from Jon Toral. The Spanish attacking midfielder has scored 2 goals in 12 games, and has only had 4 shots in total. Doesn’t sound impressive until you see his goal conversion is 50% and shot accuracy at 75%, higher than the rest of the team.
Jérémie Bela tops both goal scoring and assist tables. Having played 20 games, Bela has had 27 shots, but with a return of just 2 goals, his goal conversion rate is just 7%. He has though, provided more assists than anyone else in the team, claiming 4 to date.
Maxim Colin is a danger from midfield. Although he has just one assist, he has been an ever present for Birmingham this season and has attempted the most passed with 719, with 53 completed, a pass accuracy of 71%. However, Ivan Sanchez as a rate of 83%, having completed 542 of his attempted 656 passes.
Who’s the Boss?
Aitor Karanka has been in charge at St Andrews since July 2020. Blues fans may remember he was in charge of Middlesbrough in 2015, when the Championship side surprised City with a 2-0 victory at the Etihad Stadium. Two years later, City got their revenge in the quarter final by knocking Karanka’s team out.