Often Partisan

Trapdoor Pt III

I have to open this post by saying that my gut feeling that 36 or 38 points to stay up was probably wrong. The way the results have panned out this weekend have left me feeling that we must beat Fulham now to be secure in our future; whilst defeat may not ultimately cost us heavily I don’t believe we can afford to find out if that is the case.

But for Jermain Defoe’s stunning strike for Spurs, this weekend could have been much worse. Blues took another defeat, albeit not another one, and another red card for Liam Ridgewell which rules him out of the next game; Blackpool and Wigan both picked up creditable points and Wolves took all three from their local derby at home to West Bromwich Albion. This all leaves Blues just three points above the drop zone, with a four goal better goal difference than Blackpool. Understandably, the nerves have set in.

I’ve taken another look at the BBC predictor today; as with two games left it’s a bit easier to see the lie of the land. I think as West Ham are now six points behind us with two games left we can effectively rule them out; if they win their game against Wigan, Wigan cannot catch us barring fairly major changes to goal difference and if Wigan win, West Ham can’t. Wolves and Blackpool both play their games (at Sunderland away and Bolton at home respectively) the day before Blues, which will mean by the time we come to face Fulham, we’ll have an inkling of how much of a must-win game it is. Should Blackpool fail to beat Bolton, then Blues will know a win against Fulham will see them mathematically safe from falling behind them and a draw will do the same should Blackpool lose. A Wolves defeat would also calm the nerves somewhat, as they would still remain two points behind with one to play, and would mean a point at least against Fulham should see us stay above Wolves (barring a hammering).

However, if Wolves and Blackpool both win, whilst the pressure will be on Blues they will know a win against Fulham will pretty much still see them secure in the top flight – a draw however wouldn’t give us the same luxury. Fulham’s away record is almost as poor as ours, having taking 2 more points (but conceding 14 fewer goals), and that has to give McLeish the hope that with a sufficently attacking team, we will beat them. For the doubters who think we will play one up front, it’s worth noting that in our last three games at least at home we’ve played with two up front, and more importantly much more attacking intent. If we can stop the silly defensive errors of late, and make a similar start to the games against Sunderland and Bolton, we should be fine and I suspect we’ll be able to wrap up three points.

In short, whilst my belief that a lower points target may well be wrong, all is not lost for Blues yet. On Sunday, whatever happens they will need our backing, and with a bit of luck come the end of that game the players will be able to take a lap of appreciation, safe in the knowledge of Premiership football at St Andrews next season.

Talking Points sponsored by John Hicken Industrial roofing and cladding materials

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