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Birmingham City 3 v 4 Southampton
SkyBet Championship
Saturday, 2nd March 2024 Kick-off 15:00
Southampton V Birmingham City The Preview
Friday, 1st Mar 2024 12:41

In the space of a little over two weeks, Saints have gone from being one of the in form teams in the Championship to one of the worst in terms of points, can they get the season back on track at Birmingham City.

When Southampton travelled to Bristol City they went there as a side looking to win and cement their place in the automatic promotion spots, but here we are just 17 days later and we find ourselves in 4th place and more to the point 5 points off 2nd place.

So what has gone wrong in this relatively short period of time ?

The absence of Flynn Downes is a big part of our hopefully only temporary demise, suddenly we went from the tightest defence in the division to the leakiest and that has been a major factor in the reason why after 22 League games unbeaten, we have suddenly lost 3 out of the last 4.

But the manager also has to take some of the blame, he has rotated the squad a little, but he has made the wrong changes in the wrong games, not just in who he has had starting games, but in who he has brought off and brought on during them.

Now we face a trip to St Andrews to take on Birmingham and we could be without 3 of our most influential players this season, Ryan Fraser is out for the next few weeks and he is joined on the treatment bench by Kyle Walker Peters who according to Russell Martin will miss this Saturday's game but won't be out for too long, how long that is, is anyone's guess, Flynn Downes another likely absentee on Saturday has been on the verge of a return for the past three games, but yet to actually do so.

So this is likely to be a Saints side who will be severely depleted for the trip to the Midlands, however there is no reason for it to be a problem, we should still have the quality to get a result.

But to do so Russell Martin has to play his best side available, there is no leeway to rest players or to tinker, the best side has to start, no chopping and changing.

For me that means, Gavin Bazunu in goal, a back line of James Bree right back, Jan Bednarek, Taylor Harwood-Bellis & at left back Ryan Manning.

The midfield trio should be, assuming Downes is again missing, Will Smallbone, Joe Rothwell & Stuart Armstrong.

Up front Adam Armstrong on the left, Che Adams in the middle & David Brookes on the right.

I could be persuaded to a couple of tweaks, I would not be too disappointed if Shea Charles was in the centre of midfield or Sam Edozie in up front for Che Adams.

But whichever of those possible combinations should be capable of getting a result at St Andrews and believe me we do need a result, anything less than a win could see us lose ground on the automatic spots and we cannot afford to let that gap get wider.

Birmingham have pulled up the table in recent weeks having won 2 and lost 3 of their last 5 games, exactly the same record as ours, although in a slightly different order, they are 3 points off the relegation zone, but they may have the same record, but it is a positive run of results for them and certainly not that for us.

The main thing is not to press the panic button, we have had a bad run, but all sides have had bad runs, just two weeks ago Ipswich were seen as having blown their chances and were now going to drop down the table, but 4 straight wins has changed their season again, we now need to go and do the same.

I say it all the time, but good sides don't become bad ones overnight, the quality is still there, we may be short of a couple of key players at St Andrews, but we have enough quality in the squad and those that can step up to the plate and drag us back into form.

Photo: Action Images

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Centurion added 13:17 - Mar 1
A win is vital in order to be on target for the play off lottery.

davidargyll added 14:09 - Mar 1
"The main thing is not to press the panic button".
Eh? In which case, when is??!!
I was always told, whatever you do, don't be the last to press it...

JoeEgg added 17:14 - Mar 1
Three key players OUT. Russell Martin cant get his team selections and substitutes right. 4 losses from 5 games.
Seems like a good time for the panic button to me!

halftimeorange added 13:18 - Mar 2
Aribo should start instead of Smallbone.

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