• Championship Preview: Birmingham City v Brighton and Hove Albion

    Tuesday’s Capital One Cup game against Cheltenham marked a first competitive win for Albion under new boss Sami Hyypia, and they will now be seeking to repeat that result as soon as possible in the league.

    Their next opportunity to get three points on the board sees them travel to Birmingham - a side who survived relegation to League One by the skin of their teeth last year.

    The Blues will no doubt be wanting to avoid their season going down to the wire once again, and like the Seagulls are also seeking to get their first points on the board after an opening day defeat to Middlesbrough.

    Last seasons match winner Crofts won't feature this time around

    Looking back through previous meeting between the teams, there’s nothing to separate them. Both have won eight matches each, with nine having finished in a draw.

    However since their promotion to the Championship in 2011 it’s The Seagulls who’ve been on top in this fixture, with two wins to Birmingham’s one, with three having finished in a draw.

    Even more promising going into the game is that St Andrews has been a very happy hunting ground for the Albion. In the league we are unbeaten there in over 24 years, with our only defeat in that time coming in a League Cup game in 1996.

    Last season also saw Brighton travel to face the Brummies on the second weekend of the Championship season under Oscar Garcia, with a 73rd minute goal from Andrew Crofts enough to seal the Spaniard’s first win as Albion head Coach.

    It says a lot about how much the squad has changed in the past year that of the XI Seagulls players who ran out at St Andrews on August 17th 2013, only four – Inigo Calderon, Gordon Greer, Kemy Agustien and Andrew Crofts – are still with the club. You could make a case that with Crofts suspended and Kemy looking out of shape in midweek, only two of that quartet could start today.

    With regards to the line up, whilst some player rotation was in place for the League Cup game, this afternoons team is unlikely to see any drastic changes from that which ran out at the Amex against Sheffield Wednesday last weekend.

    After deputising in midfield midweek, Bruno is likely to revert to his natural right back position. With Hyypia saying that Adam Chicksen has more work to do before he’s ready to start in the league, the left back berth is Inigo Calderon’s till further notice.

    Having grabbed his first professional goal against Cheltenham, Lewis Dunk may have made a case to break into the back four. However with Greer and Aaron Hughes having looked solid during most of last Saturday’s match, Dunk may have to wait for his chance to break into the starting fold again.

    With Crofts suspended, it leaves a hole in the midfield three. As already mentioned, Agustien’s underwhelming showing midweek would mean that Nzuzi Toko is in the prime position to start. And there’s always the Bruno in midfield scenario that could be experimented with again.

    With Will Buckley’s departure having gone through on Thursday, it’s should be a no brainer that Kazenga Lua Lua and Shamir Fenelon will start as the two inside attacking midfield players. Solly March’s recovery from a back injury isn’t progressing as quickly as the club hoped, and is unlikely to feature.

    There’s also Albion’s latest acquisition to consider. Portuguese Under 21 international Joao Teixeira has joined on a season-long loan from Liverpool, and is eligible to play today.

    A seat on the bench in place of the recently departed Buckley is likely, but Hyypia will no doubt want Teixeira to understand the philosophy of the club and his playing style a bit more before sticking him in the starting XI.

    Whilst a lot of names in the Birmingham squad will be familiar to most Championship fans, there’s one who in particular most Brighton supporters will know of.

    Local boy Grant Hall joined Albion in 2009 after impressing during a year at non-league Lewes. The defender had been part of the club’s centre of excellence, but missed out on a youth scholarship at age 16.

    Could Teixeira start at St Andrews?

    Hall progressed through the ranks of the youth at the same time as a number of other young defenders who showed a lot of promise for the future, including Steve Cook – now at Bournemouth - and Dunk. During his time at the club he only made two appearances, however one did come during one of the most memorable matches of the 2011-12 season, the 3-0 demolition of Southampton.

    He went on to make a further appearance in the League Cup, and his performances attracted attention from bigger clubs. Hence when a new contract was offered by Albion, Hall turned it down and chose to sign for Tottenham.

    Since his move to White Hart Lane he has spent a year on loan at Swindon, and so far has played every minute of Birmingham’s season, including the full extra time of their League Cup win against Cambridge United.

    Speaking to the club website ahead of the game, Blues boss Lee Clark isn’t underestimating the challenge Albion will pose when they travel to the Midlands.

    “They've been one of the in-form teams over the last couple of years, so we fully understand that it's going to be an extremely tough game but we're hoping that we can put them under enough pressure to make them buckle.

    “They've lost a few players that have been important for them over the last couple of years and we've got to try to take control of that situation and make it work in our favour.”

    Brighton will be going into this match knowing that sustaining momentum after Tuesday is important moving forward. Putting together a win of runs this early in the season can only help, as Sami himself has admitted his squad isn’t as strong as he’d like it to be now.

    History says that Albion will go into this as many peoples favourites, however they aren’t the only ones eager to get points on the board as soon as possible. Both sides would probably take a draw at this point, however in football all we all really want is the win and the three points that go with it.
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Papa Lazarou's Avatar
      Papa Lazarou -
      Very good
    1. hans kraay fan club's Avatar
      hans kraay fan club -
      Excellent preview Brad. Good work.
    1. deletebeepbeepbeep's Avatar
      deletebeepbeepbeep -
      Great write up.
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