Sunday, December 27, 2009

Birmingham Inhibit Chelsea

It was Chelsea who were left with the blues after the battle thereof, dropping two more priceless points in a dangerous mid-season hiatus: they have only one win in their past seven matches in all competitions. The league leaders, who failed to score for the first time in 34 games, are increasingly vulnerable to Manchester United, whose trip to Hull today has the look of a gimme.

Birmingham, in contrast, are on the up and up – the division's form team with 17 points from their past seven games. They are unbeaten in their past 10, and would have claimed another notable scalp yesterday but for an erroneous offside decision which robbed Christian "Chucho" Benítez of what should have been the winner.

In fairness, defeat would have been hard on Chelsea, who created the lion's share of the scoring chances and were ultimately denied by a man-of-the-match performance from Joe Hart, who looked every inch the England goalkeeper in waiting. Alex McLeish, the manager at St Andrew's, said afterwards that he would love to make Hart, who is on loan from Manchester City, his first signing in January.

Birmingham's new owner, Carson Yeung, is committed to making "substantial" funds available, and McLeish's record in the market to date should get him whatever he wants – within reason.


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