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Nic Ladds 6th Feb 2010 - 16:45

Consistency the key for the Blues

Birmingham are set to continue their Premier League record of naming the same starting eleven for the twelfth consecutive match, which has been the foundation for them performing above all expectations so far this season. Wolverhampton are involved in their customary relegation battle, and after Birmingham beat them here - they will be pushed deeper in to trouble.

Birmingham (5/6) sit eighth in the league and everything points to a victory for them in this tie. They have been on an amazing run of form and Alex McLeish has finally found a formula to keep the Blues in this league.  Losing just one of their last fourteen league matches and going unbeaten in their last eight at home has propelled them to a respectable league position.

Wolves (4/1) have contrasting fortunes, only out of the drop zone on goal difference. They have lost their last five league games and failed to score in four of them and things are not looking good for them this season. They haven't won in the league since the 20th of December.

The head to head record also favours the home side; Wolves are without a win in the last eight league meetings between the two. I think Birmingham will win comfortably - the -1 handicap is worth a look at 23/10.

Doing the Birmingham team news is easy this week with McLeish being so consistent, the only change is Kevin Phillips coming back from injury to make the bench. Lee Bowyer is surprisingly their top scorer and you can get 9/4 on him adding to his five goals at any time. More likely though is Christian Benitez at 11/2 first goal.

Wolves welcome back Matt Jarvis, Stephen Ward and Marcus Hahnemann after their midweek defeat away at Crystal Palace. Also back is top scorer and most likely threat Kevin Doyle (7/1) who has five goals to his name so far.

Birmingham fans will be disappointed they didn't manage to bring in any of the big names they were linked with in the transfer window after they had a reported war chest to spend. A striker was needed as although they grind out the results and are solid at the back, they are a bit goal shy. If Wolves can stop them scoring then chances are it will be 0-0 which at 15/2 is worth a shot.

I wouldn't really expect a goal-fest between the two, with a Birmingham victory and under 2.5 match goals doubled at 12/5 giving a bit more value than just betting on the 90 minute market.

As with most derbies, the hype will probably not be lived up to, I expect a scrappy affair. There will no doubt be tackles flying everywhere and cards rife, over 6 match cards at 9/2 seems like a good price.

All the form and history taken in to account, Birmingham will expect to get one over on their rivals, they can't actually move up the table but will put some much needed space between them and ninth.

I don't fancy the odds-on price on the Blues as it is a derby and as we know, anything can happen. I will personally be betting on the 1-0 and 2-0 scorelines at 4/1 and 11/2 respectively to get a bit more return for my money.



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