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Premier League preview: Blackburn v Birmingham

SoccerNews in English Premier League 7 Apr 2011

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The fight for English Premier League survival will be on in earnest when Blackburn welcome Birmingham to Ewood Park on Saturday.

Steve Kean’s Blackburn are without a league win since their 2-0 triumph over West Brom on January 23, and they are in 14th place on the league table – just two points clear of the bottom three.

However, they did manage a 0-0 draw with Arsenal at the Emirates in their most recent start.

The situation is much the same for Birmingham boss Alex McLeish, with his side winning just two of their past 10 league matches and sitting in 15th place, also on 34 points.

Birmingham did enjoy some success last time out, beating Bolton 2-1, but like their rivals on Saturday they are skating perilously close to the drop zone.

The highlight of McLeish’s season was undoubtedly Birmingham’s 2-1 win over Arsenal at Wembley on February 27 to claim the Carling Cup, the first piece of silverware to arrive at St Andrew’s in 48 years.

The Scot is desperate to ensure his side do not become just the second team to win the League Cup and be relegated in the same season, a fate which befell Norwich in 1985.

In their only other meeting this season, two goals from Craig Gardner helped Birmingham to a 2-1 win at St Andrew’s on August 21.

Kean has selection problems of both a fitness and disciplinary nature ahead of the clash, with midfielder Steven N’Zonzi suspended for the next three games after being sent off for a rash challenge on Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny on Saturday.

Vince Grella is out for the rest of the season, and Keith Andrews looks unlikely to shake off his troublesome groin problem in time to feature in the seven games they have left.

The injury list at St Andrew’s is slightly more extensive, with defender Martin Jiranek, midfielder Alexander Hleb and striker James McFadden all in doubt, while defender Scott Dann is nursing a hamstring injury.

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