Often Partisan

Taking our Chances.

Survival Sunday. It’s a dramatic finale to the Premiership, and for once Sky are probably not too far off with the hyperbole involved in the final day. Four matches can affect the outcome of who goes down, and sadly, Birmingham City are right in the mixer.

There’s been a lot of talk about how Blues should approach the game against Spurs; should they go all out attack go for the win and hope they’re not too exposed at the back, or park the bus and hope results around them work in their favour? Despite mathematics and logic not working for me particularly well when it came to predicting the number of points needed to stay up, I think it’s worth taking a look at probability and showing that McLeish has to be positive.

There are three other games that will affect the outcome of the final table at the sharp end; Manchester United v Blackpool, Stoke City v Wigan Athletic and Wolverhampton Wanderers v Blackburn Rovers. Each of those three games have three outcomes – home win, draw, away win. Thus there are 3 x 3 x 3, or 27 outcomes available in total. Of course, this doesn’t take into account how goal difference and goals scored can play a part in the final tally up.

If Blues win against Spurs (and I know it’s a big if), then there are only two possible outcomes out of those 27 that would possibly send us down – and even they are dependent on the teams below us winning and outscoring us on the final weekend. To go down having beaten Spurs would be incredibly unlucky.

If Blues get beaten against Spurs, then there are only three possible outcomes of those 27 which could see us stay up, and again those are dependent on how badly we get beaten. It also relies on two results definitely going our way – something we can’t depend on at all bearing in mind how topsy turvy the results have been over the last few weeks.

If Blues draw, then there are eleven possible outcomes that would see us relegated, and sixteen that would see us stay up. A lot of this is because Wolves have a worse goal difference than us along with Blackpool and Wigan, and this would work in our favour should we pick up points and a combination from the three other teams should fail to do so.

Logically, this makes sense. Being positive is the best way to influence the outcome, because winning is rewarded by points and of course points are what it’s all about. What worries me is that Blues will be keeping an eye on the other scores, and should Blackpool and Wigan concede early Blues might decide to keep it tight to make sure that they don’t concede. This season has proved this is foolhardy; the best form of defence really for us is to attack and ensure we’re doing our best to score goals.

If I was McLeish, I’d take it as read that we’re going down unless we perform well. I’d tell the team that this is a one-off, a cup game sort of atmosphere, and therefore they have to go out and win it. If we can score (rather then concede as we have been doing) early on, it puts pressure on the teams around us to match results. It’s best we ignore the other scores and concentrate on our game – win it and we’re more than likely safe.

Of course, having just one point from our last five games, having scored only three goals and conceded thirteen it’s hard to see where this win is magically going to come from. The thing to take heart in is in the last game form does temporarily go out the window; teams have been known to play on a whole level better than they had previously. As Blues fans, we have to hope for the best, unfortunately I can’t help but fear the worst.

Talking Points sponsored by John Hicken Industrial roofing and cladding materials

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