Gary Rowett has made a success of "the impossible job" since taking over the reins at Birmingham City in October and the Midlands side have improved immeasurably since the start of his tenure. The key question is, have they improved enough to see off West Brom this weekend?
Go back a few months and ask us who we thought would win this match. The answer would be West Brom without a doubt. The Hawthorns outfit have never been far from the relegation zone this season, however Birmingham City were in a more precarious position at that stage of the season and looked destined for a drop to League One.
Gary Rowett then turned up. Since his arrival, the side have improved immeasurably and now sit comfortably in eleventh position. Things are looking much more rosy.
Things are looking similarly rosy at West Brom. Tony Pulis is a man who doesn’t tolerate failure and he appears to have turned things around at the Hawthorns. Indeed his charges haven’t lost a single game since his appointment as manager and he will be confident that local bragging rights will be with the Baggies this weekend.
West Brom went through December with just one win from six outings. January was a different proposition entirely with Pulis’ side drawing two and winning two, including an emphatic 7-0 thrashing of Conference side Gateshead in the last round of this competition.
Things won’t be so straightforward at St Andrews however. The Blue half of Birmingham is on something of a high at the moment and they sit a mere nine points adrift of the play-offs. Indeed a top six finish is a realistic target following a dramatic turnaround which has seen the side lose just two matches since the devastating 8-0 home defeat to Bournemouth at the end of October.
Their last outing was to Elland Road, never an easy place to clinch a win. A decent 1-1 draw saw a well-earned point for the Blues and they will be in high spirits coming into this match.
Indeed, seventeen league places separate these two sides, however this will count for little in this competition and we feel that this match has all the makings of a draw. West Brom will find the back of the net at some point but then again so will City.
Saido Berahino will be the main scoring threat from the visitors, the Burundi striker eager to add to his impressive season tally of 14. We’ll be backing him to score at some point of this match at odds of 6/4 with BetVictor.
Nevertheless, this looks set to be an extremely evenly-fought affair. West Brom are in-form. Birmingham are in-form. A draw is our choice and at 5/2 represents decent value. Chuck in some goals and we’re looking at 15/4, that’s better value!
Our betting tips
Draw and both teams to score – Winner 15/4
Anytime Goalscorer, Saido Berahino – BetVictor 6/4