Verdict: Home Win
Best Odds: 8/5
The midweek FA Cup replay comes as an inconvenient distraction for both Birmingham and Huddersfield, who lock horns in a Tuesday’s fourth round rerun following a 1-1 draw in the first meeting at the Kirklees Stadium.
Back-to-back victories in the Championship have pushed up the spirits a bit in Birmingham with Steve Cotterill’s side seeing off Sunderland and Sheffield Wednesday with identical 3-1 results, respectively, over the course of last week.
The two-match mini-run comes as an encouragement following a three-game winless streak towards the end of January for Birmingham. Cotterill’s boys have suffered only one defeat in their last eight matches but are still only four points clear of the Championship relegation zone. With survival as their main focus at the moment, the FA Cup clash comes as rather an inconvenience for the hosts. Birmingham did well to earn a repeated match last time out when they recovered from the first-half opener by Mounie through Jutkiewicz near the hour mark. The two teams ended up being stuck at the stalemate despite Huddersfield’s on-pitch dominance and – despite the poor timing – the forthcoming Tuesday’s match could potentially be a gamechanger for Birmingham at a crucial moment of the season.
Jonathan Grounds picked up a knock against Sheffield Wednesday and is not expected to be involved in the rematch.
Isaac Vassell is another absentee for the hosts, whereas Tomasz Kuszczak is an injury doubt. Carl Jenkinson remains sidelined with his shoulder injury.
Five defeats in seven matches are definitely a clear sign of a crisis at Huddersfield. The past season’s Championship sensation are beginning to burn out in the top tier following a strong start to their campaign, however.
Wagner’s men are sitting deep in the relegation zone with their spirits knocked to the ground following back-to-back defeats at the hands of Liverpool and Manchester United, respectively. With their hopes of surviving the season in the Premier League on ropes, the last thing Terries need at this point is an FA Cup distraction. Some could argue that the game at Birmingham could be a chance to kick-start their campaign, a side with limited resources and options such as Huddersfield would rather do without such a digression at a crucial moment of the season. Huddersfield managed only two wins on the road this season and their poor away form offers little promise ahead of the trip to St Andrew’s. The Terries haven’t kept a clean sheet away from home since September and doing so this time around would be considered a feat.
Huddersfield are expected to make plenty of changes compared to the team which lost to Manchester United. Philip Billing got himself injured at the weekend, together with Christopher Schindler and Laurent Depoitre.
Joel Coleman is expected to return on goal, whereas Elias Kachunga and Jon Gorenc Stankovic are both missing out.
Key Factors to Consider
- Birmingham lost only one of their last 8 matches
- Huddersfield failed to keep a clean sheet away from home since September
- The Terries lost 4 of their last 4 matches in all competitions
- Birmingham haven’t kept a clean sheet in last four matches
- Hosts won only one of their last five matches against the Terries
Relegation is a real threat for both sides in their respective leagues and the FA Cup replay clash comes as a distraction. Nevertheless, hosts are in somewhat better place at the moment with their confidence given an important boost over the past two matches. Huddersfield are rather distraught by defeats at the hands of Liverpool and Manchester United so we should not expect them to put up a too big of a fight at St Andrew’s.
Verdict: Home Win
Best Odds: 8/5
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