Premier League: Birmingham v Arsenal Team News
If they are to scale to the top of the Premier League this weekend, Arsenal must break down the Birmingham fortress built by Alex McLeish since his arrival at St Andrews.
McCleish’s team last tasted defeat on home soil when Everton took the spoils in early October, the first home reverse in a run stretching back to August 2009.
Chelsea fell at St Andrews at the end on November and in December high-flying Tottenham and league leaders Manchester United both left with a share of the prize after 1-1 draws.
However, too many drawn results see the Blues hovering perilously close to the drop zone and McCleish will be looking for his troops to push clear of the danger area, starting with three points against the Gunners.
Wenger was full of festive cheer after his Arsenal side triumphed 3-1 against title rivals Chelsea last Monday, but his team seemed to be suffering a hangover with a lacklustre 2-2 draw at struggling Wigan.
It was wasted opportunity to go level on points with Manchester United and Manchester City at the top of Premier League and now attempt to go one better than on the last two visits which resulted in draws.
Wenger needs no reminder of Birmingham’s battling spirit after twice being denied victory at St Andrews by late equalizers from McCleish’s never-say-die battlers; Kevin Phillips’ inspired substitution produced a 90th minute leveller last season and previously James McFadden salvaged a point with an injury time penalty.
With no new injury concerns, McCleish is ready to name an unchanged side from the one that earned a point against Manchester United on Tuesday.
Wenger will be without Abou Diaby who sustained a calf injury against Wigan, but Cesc Fabregas will return after serving a one-match suspension.
Robin Van Persie and Alex Song wre controversially rested for the encounter at the DW Stadium and could return to face the Blues.
Possible starting line ups:
BIRMINGHAM: Foster, Carr, Johnson, Dann, Ridgewell, Larsson, Bowyer, Ferguson, Gardner, Fahey, Jerome.
ARSENAL: Fabianski, Squillaci, Clichy, Sagna, Koscielny, Arshavin, Song, Nasri, Fabregas, Van Persie, Chamakh.
9/2 Birmingham with Bet365
3/1 Draw with William Hill
7/10 Arsenal with Paddy Power