Last season Alex McLeish built a Birmingham team that was very difficult to beat, pretty much in the same vein as the Stoke team put together by Tony Pulis in the Potters’ first Premier League season.
But this term, the formerly near-impenetrable defences of both sides have become somewhat leaky and unless something changes soon, they will find themselves facing a relegation fight.
Stoke are looking to end a four game losing streak that sees them level on points with third bottom Wigan while Birmingham’s inconsistent form doesn’t add up to much better, being two points and two places above Stoke in fifteenth position.
Stoke lost just four times at Vicarage Road last season and they have continued their solid home form with only Tottenham and Manchester United able to beat then so far this term.
Generally available at odds of 11/10 with bookmakers, including 888 Sport, the home win looks tempting when considering Birmingham are still looking for their win away from St Andrews.
Birmingham were one of the few teams able take three points from Stoke last season and will have the belief they can handle Stoke’s physical approach, Victor Chandler bet 14/5 for the away win.
Stoke’s squad is largely injury free; Rory Delap was able to make a substitute appearance on Saturday after doubts about his calf problem and could be on the bench again.
Mamady Sidibe has been ruled out since August with an Achilles injury and is unlikely to figure this season.
Captain Ryan Shawcross misses through suspension after collecting two bookings at Sunderland; the versatile Robert Huth is expected to move to the centre of defence with Andy Wilkinson or Danny Higginbotham coming in at right-back.
Birmingham boss Alex McLeish will consider making changes to the team that started against West Ham at the weekend.
He has no new injury worries but given the impact of his substitutes, midfielders Craig Gardner and Jean Beausejour will consider they did well enough to earn a start on Tuesday.
Gardner and Beausejour replaced Hleb and Haley on the hour mark with their team two goals down to the bottom of the table side, but they inspired a comeback and within fifteen minutes Birmingham had squared the game.
James McFadden is a long term injury and is expected to be out until February with the knee injury he suffered in September.
Possible starting lineups:
STOKE: Begovic, Wilkinson, Huth, Faye, Collins, Walters, Whitehead, Wilson, Etherington; Sanli, Jones.
BIRMINGHAM: Foster; Carr, Johnson, Dann, Ridgewell; Larsson, Ferguson, Gardner, Beausejour; Jerome, Zigic