We’ve got something of an oddity on offer on Friday night as Coventry City welcome Birmingham City to St Andrew’s. Yes, you’ve read that right. If you didn’t already know, the EFL’s resident nomads have pitched up at The Blues’ famous old home to take what they hope will be a short-term residency. The Sky Blues are looking for another permanent home after leaving the Ricoh following an ongoing dispute with the stadium’s owners.
This kind of situation is not new for Coventry. This is their second season sleeping on their near-neighbours’ sofa and they also spent 12 months at Northampton back in 2013/14. It all went rather well last year as they secured promotion to the Championship, picking up the League One title on route.
Friday 7.45pm: Coventry v Birmingham
Sky Sports Football
In terms of this clash on Friday night, it’s a pretty tough one to call. The only thing we can seemingly guarantee is goals.
For what it’s worth, Saturday’s visitors to St Andrew’s, Birmingham City, are 17th in the Championship with 13 points from 11 games and a record of three wins, four draws and four losses. The Sky Blues are 21st with eight points from their 11 games with two wins, two draws and seven defeats.
Coventry’s thrilling 3-2 win over Reading, who had only dropped two points up to that stage, was supposed to be a catalyst for them to kick on and move up the table. However, they narrowly lost their next two while The Royals have since fallen off a cliff, losing both of their following two games 3-0, to put some context into that result. That victory was just one of two wins The Sky Blues have had in the league all season with the other coming against QPR back in September. Since then Cov have drawn two, lost six and won just once.
Birmingham have some better form to rely on of late, winning two of their last four. These two met in the FA Cup last season – twice at St Andrew’s – with a 0-0 draw leading to a replay that the landlords won on penalties. Those fixtures came in the midst of The Blues’ disastrous run last season and, with their improvement in fortunes and Coventry generally lacking the ability to turn their good attacking form into wins, we’re plumping with Birmingham to Win.
Backing Coventry’s recent trend of high scoring games in which they ultimately lose narrowly to continue could be the way to go in this one. Over 3.5 Goals is a really appealing price given how things have gone for Mark Robins’ men over their last 5 games which have produced one win and four defeats. In those five Over 3.5 Goals landed three times, Over 2.5 twice and Over 1.5 once, with an average of 3.8 goals per game.
Friday’s away side have been slightly thriftier, with Over 3.5 landing once, Over 2.5 three times with the other game being a 0-0 draw. That all works out at an average of 2.6 goals per game. Put those two figures together and we’re left with a combined average of 3.2 in these two sides’ last five. When Coventry take the field there’s generally plenty of action at both ends of the pitch and with The Blues starting to open up in more recent games Over 3.5 Goals feels like a good play at an appealing price.
While Birmingham City have been fairly goal shy up until recently, their opponents on Friday have the leakiest defence in the division by some way, shipping 23 goals in 11 games. Coventry have conceded four more than anyone else (Wycombe) and seven more than the next-worst team, 24th-placed Derby.
All this means we have to be on a Birmingham goalscorer in this one and who better than their joint-top scorer Jeremie Bela? This seems like a great plan until you see that he has scored *checks notes* two goals and shares the top scoring spot with the famous goal-machine Gary Gardner. Humm…
Regardless, the reasons for this selection go deeper than that rather-underwhelming statistic. He’s featured in all-but one of the Blues’ games this season so we can expect another start here and, if you’re an attacking player in an anticipated goal fest, we’re in with a good chance.
He also likes to pull the trigger and has had the most shots of any Birmingham City player this season (18) with comfortably over 50% of those being on target. Bela’s on spot kick duty, has plenty of assists, and generally gets involved in the right areas of the pitch.
When you add Coventry’s woeful defence (which has given away four converted spot-kicks already this season) into the mix it all means we should see the Frenchman in the thick of the action on Friday night. Jeremie Bela to Score Anytime could be the best route through this confusing and potentially crazy fixture.
Tips for Coventry v Birmingham
These three best bets in a Same Game Multi will give you odds of over 14/1 with Paddy Power.
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