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Jon Riley 30th Apr 2010 - 9:13

Blues to Add to Burnley's woes

Birmingham City will hope to bounce back from their derby defeat against Aston Villa last week when already relegated Burnley visit St Andrews.

James Milner's controversial late penalty in front of the Holte End broke the Blue's hearts in a game many thought they were worthy of at least a point.

That loss meant that Birmingham, despite their lofty position, have failed to win any of their previous eight outings, drawing four and losing four in this sequence.

They'll hope to put that that right against a Burnley side that were put out of their misery against Liverpool last weekend, finally falling through the Premier League trapdoor. The Clarets form has been nothing short of terrible in the last six months. Since their 2-0 win against Hull City on October 31, the men from Turf Moor have won just twice, drawn six and lost a staggering 17 times in 24 games.

To make matters that little bit worse, they have shipped in a confounding 56 goals in the process.

It's hard to believe that when these teams met earlier in the season Burnley were flying high in the league and after defeating Birmingham 2-1 sat one point off a European place. How times have changed.

Birmingham then embarked on a fifteen game unbeaten run in all competitions notably earning points against Chelsea and Manchester United. It provided a tremendous base of points for them to continue their impressive season.

Contrast that to Burnley's run of form over the same space of time. They have only collected fifteen points since these two teams met back in October. Out went Owen Coyle who succumbed to Bolton's advances and in came Brian Laws, a move which has proved disastrous. The former Sheffield Wednesday manager has seemed out of his depth for some time, as has many of the Clarets players.

Although Birmingham have drawn half of their eighteen matches this season, they have lost just two and they tend to make short work of lesser opponents. They are priced at 1/2 to avenge that loss earlier in the season and I'm sure will be well backed to do so.

Burnley though, are unbeaten in the last four league meetings with the Blues, winning two of those four matches. Now that relegation has been confirmed they may be afforded some sort of freedom to end this miserable season with something of a flourish. You can get odds of 11/2 on them leaving St Andrews with three points.

Given Burnley's lacklustre attack I can only see the first goal being scored by a player in blue. Cameron Jerome (7/2 first goal), Kevin Phillips 4/1 and Christian Benitez 9/2 should be well favoured against a team that have conceded no less than 78 goals this season.

A more speculative bet could be for Sebastian Larsson to score the opener. Birmingham have scored more direct free-kick goals than any other side. Given the Swede's set piece prowess he could be a value bet at 9/1.

Burnley's top scorer Steven Fletcher is 8/1 to give Burnley an unlikely lead, the same price as his strike partner David Nugent. A fact that highlights the goal scoring problems that have plagued the visitors all season is that their second highest goal scorer is veteran midfielder Graham Alexander. He has seven league goals to his name, the majority of them penalties, and is priced at 14/1 to break the deadlock.

My recommendation for this game would be a 1-0 win for the home team. Birmingham are solid if not spectacular at home and the last 11 meetings between them and Burnley in all competitions have ended as draws or wins by a one-goal margin. The correct score of 1-0 pays out at 5/1.




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