Kebe's Key For McDermott: Reading v Birmingham Preview

Birmingham may be unbeaten in six but Kebe and Church will prove too much for them against Reading at the Madejski.
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Birmingham may be unbeaten in six but Kebe and Church will prove too much for them against Reading at the Madejski.

Birmingham may be unbeaten in six but Kebe and Church will prove too much for them against Reading at the Madejski.

Two years ago in May, Birmingham were promoted after beating Reading 2-1 in the Championship in what was essentially a Play off final. Meeting again on Sunday for the first time since, a lot has changed. Reading lost Steve Coppell, hired and then fired Brendan “Big Watch” Rodgers and have ended up with Brian McDermott who has done a decent job ever since. Birmingham meanwhile, went up, refused to score goals, won the Carling Cup, got relegated and then Alex McLeish moved across town to Aston Villa and Chris “Nicest Man in Football” Hughton has taken over.

How are the Teams doing?

Reading have had a mixed season so far. After a terrible 5 game losing streak they since went 8 games undefeated until losing to Nottingham Forest in mid-week. However, the 8 games undefeated is a deceptive statistic, since the majority of these were draws. Many goalless draws. Reading aren’t scoring, with just one goal in the first half of a game all season and only 15 in total so far. That’s what happens when you sell your top goal scorer every year for three years running.

Birmingham are unbeaten in six. They had a respectable draw mid week and having rested many players for that Euro tie they should be back to full strength today. Although their home form has been strong, conceding just one goal so far, their away form has been the opposite and could prove to be decisive. Birmingham remain outside the play offs and need to start challenging.

On form, Jimmy Kebe is one of the best players in the league. Lightning quick and skillful; he has suffered with injury and poor form but could return on Sunday and may kick start a lackluster campaign

Who might make the difference?

On form, Jimmy Kebe is one of the best players in the league. Lightning quick and skillful; he has suffered with injury and poor form but could return on Sunday and may kick start a lackluster campaign for a team that nearly attained promotion to the Premiership last season.

Chris Wood

Chris Wood is Birmingham’s top goal scorer with 8 in the league. The young New Zealander has sparkled this season and could cause problems for a Reading defense that haven’t instilled great confidence since the loss of Matt Mills to Leicester.

What are the managers saying?

Reading boss Brian McDermott: "Ours is one of the youngest sides in the Championship, the third youngest side in the Championship, so we're learning with every game and it'll be nice to get back to the Madejski on Sunday after two away games. We feel we should have had at least three points out of the two but this is another game to look forward to.

Birmingham manager Chris Hughton: 'I saw Reading play in midweek against Forest and I certainly think they deserved to get something out of the game. They are well drilled with a great work ethic and a good manager and if I look at their league position they've probably suffered from the amount of draws that they've had.'

Prediction: Reading to win 2-0 with goals scored by Kebe and Church.

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