Birmingham City stormed into the fifth round of the F.A Cup after thumping Sheffield United 0-4 at Bramall Lane in the last 32, but Chris Hughton’s men could be on the receiving end of a similar score line when they make the daunting visit to Stamford Bridge to face six time winners Chelsea on Saturday February 18.
The form book perhaps doesn’t quite indicate such an outcome; however Chelsea will surely be out to make amends following an inept Premier League performance away at Everton which resulted in a tame 2-0 defeat.
Chelsea’s sixth league loss of the campaign heaped further misery on beleaguered boss Andre Villas Boas and more importantly, saw the Blues drop out of the top four with that position now occupied by a rejuvenated Arsenal who claimed a 1-2 success at Sunderland.
But with a mass of quality still in the squad, Chelsea should be able to bounce back in style against Alex McLeish’s team and continue their fine recent F.A Cup tradition.
Chelsea’s season has largely been one of mixed fortunes – after all, they are still in the hunt for a maiden Champions League win despite being well off the pace domestically.
But when their backs have been against the wall, AVB’s men have tended to respond well and the forthcoming cup clash against Championship outfit Birmingham should allow the West Londoner’s a chance to restore some order.
Chelsea managed to lash four goals past Portsmouth in a consummate third round victory and were efficient if nothing else when snatching a 0-1 win at QPR in round four.
And a repeat of those prior displays should be enough at the very least to see off Birmingham City, despite the impressive form and credentials of the Midlands side.
City have shot up to third in the Championship thanks largely to three wins and a draw from their last four league outings, which included a superb 1-4 success against Leeds United when Serbian hitman Nikola Zigic fired in all of the goals.
Brum also performed with credit in the Europa League pre-Christmas and were only narrowly denied a place in the last 32 after beating both NK Maribor and Club Brugge during that campaign.
But although Hughton’s team look like being a decent prospect in the long run, Chelsea’s firepower and midfield quality is likely to overwhelm them – an outcome which could even suit Birmingham in terms of the rest of the season with promotion back to the Premier League being their main priority.
Chelsea’s best odds of 2/7 suggest the bookmakers feel a Blues backlash is imminent and that progress through the quarter-finals for AVB’s men should be smooth and trouble free.
That price is hardly worth taking for the casual to intermediate punter however 3-1 and 4-1 to the home side catches the eye at 10/1 and 16/1 respectively.
Didier Drogba should also return for the hosts after his exploits with the Ivory Coast at the African Nations Cup and the 33-year-old could be a worthy choice to open the scoring on the back of his excellent international performances.
© Frixo 2013