Quite unrealistic odds considering Birmingham have won 5 of their last 6, and are unbeaten in 9 consecutive games, while Chelsea won only one of their last 6 games in all competitions, and precisely 1 of their last 4 EPL fixtures.
Even more, Birmingham sit 7th on the table and could very much end 2009 with a bang; breaking into the top 6, so they do have a very strong motive along with high spirits.
The problem is Birmingham never defeated Chelsea in the EPL era. In fact, the Blues of Birmingham City last conquered the Blues of London in the 70-1980 season, and it was at the Bridge, while the last time Birmingham won at home was in an FA Cup fixture 5 seasons earlier.
Still, I don’t remember the last time I saw Birmingham playing like they do now, and surely they have a better chance of getting at least a point from this than the odds would suggest.
Roger Johnson and Liam Ridgewell; the Birmingham defenders are both rated doubtful but they have more chance of making it than not. Otherwise, only Murphy, Tainio and O’Connor continue to be sidelined. In other words, Brum will be playing their 7th consecutive game with an unchanged line-up.
Chelsea are missing Nicolas Anelka, but Drogba is there so no worries. Michael Essien, Bosingwa and Deco are also out though, and I feel since Essien was ruled out they never appeared the same as they did in his presence.
The Terry incident may or may not have some bearing on the overall morale of the visiting squad, but either way I’d be more comfortable backing the hosts on the handicap than risk my money on a lousy 1.58 (at best) on Chelsea to win outright. After all, Birmingham are a much better side than both Everton and West Ham, both of which Chelsea could only draw with recently.
Birmingham +1 A.H. @ 1.98 w/ Ladbrokes