Saturday at three o’clock see’s the ongoing merry-go-round of Championship football, as high-flying Fulham take on Birmingham City at Craven Cottage.
Scott Parker’s men are currently fifth in the league table as they look to gain as many points as possible in their remaining six matches of the regular season – with automatic promotion not outside the realms of possibility.
Even if it does seem unlikely with Leeds and West Bromwich Albion battling it out for the top two places. It’s like entering a 100m sprint – only to have Usain Bolt and Tyson Gay alongside you, already knowing that the best you can hope for is third place on the podium.
Although in Fulham’s case it would be winning the playoffs at Wembley in one of the most lucrative and financially rewarding games of the footballing calendar.
The Cottagers come into the game with Birmingham in a mixed run of form. Fulham have won only two of their previous five games – with recent losses to fellow promotion hopefuls Leeds United and Brentford Town. That being said, they picked up all three points in their last game, after defeating Queen Park Rangers in a London derby.
However, Fulham won’t be able to be at full strength for their game with the Blues as their key striker Alexsandar Mitrovic is still serving a suspension after being sent off against Leeds. It’s a big blow when you consider that Mitrovic has scored 23 goals for the Cottagers this season – seemingly settling better in London than he did in Newcastle, his previous club.
As for the visitors, Birmingham City – they currently occupy 17th position in the Championship table. That being said, they still have it all to play for. Although they stand no chance of achieving a top-six finish come the end of the season, they stand a mathematical chance of being relegated to the third division of English football – League 1. And Although they should be fine, they will certainly want to avoid sleepwalking into a relegation fight in their remaining fixtures.
Spanish manager, Pep Clotet – is set to leave the club at the end of the season, and all involved will certainly want a strong end to the campaign. Liverpool legend, Robbie Fowler is the bookies favourite for a job in the dugout at St. Andrews next season. Although it seems as though he faces competition from former Birmingham manager Chris Hughton, as well as Charlton manager Lee Bowyer all being given good odds.
The match may see young prospect Jude Bellingham take up a place in the midfield, as the youngest debutant in the club’s history is being heavily linked with a move to German giants Borussia Dortmund and also Manchester United. Quite incredible for somebody who’s 17 years of age and has only 35 league games under his belt.
In terms of a score prediction, it seems hard to look past a Fulham victory as they’ll be hoping to gain momentum going into what looks like a battle for the third promotion spot to the Premier League. Although Birmingham should provide a competitive 90 minutes.
Match Preview written by Matt Davey