Preview: Blues v Fulham

We know for example on Saturday against Fulham we will be playing against a team that is very comfortable in possession and they will make it very difficult for our pressing.

Pep Clotet.

Our full match preview ahead of Saturday's Sky Bet Championship fixture between Blues and The Cottagers at the St. Andrew’s Trillion Stadium (3pm kick-off).

Pep Clotet asked how pleased he was with the way that Blues have been picking up points, particularly at home...
"We all feel very confident within the Club because the last three games we were the best team at home and we’re playing at St. Andrew's before the international break. But we know that every game is very difficult, and we focus a lot on the game by game. Our recent form is one of the best that we've had. But as soon as the game starts that means nothing and we want to make sure that we put our football on the pitch first , second that we have the backing of our fans and thirdly that we fight for those three points because it is critical for us."

Pep Clotet asked about being nominated for October's Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Month award...
"I think the most important thing is to realise that all the work this Club is putting in around a group of players. That includes the fans as well with their backing. This work is being recognised. At the end of the day we're not here to win awards, we're here to win football games. That's what makes me more interested about trying to win games. Whoever wins that award I congratulate him. It's very nice having done all the work that we've done under the circumstances that they were, getting that recognition is a proof of all of the players, the Club, the staff has put in to help Birmingham get through everything."

Pep Clotet on the work that is being done on the defensive aspect of his side's game...
"We try to establish a higher press and are pressing as soon as we lose the ball with a lot of intensity to try and disrupt the supply. We know for example on Saturday against Fulham we will be playing against a team that is very comfortable in possession and they will make it very difficult for our pressing. And we not only have to do the pressing very well, but we need to understand when we lose the ball, we need to get reorganised and defend the ball and make it very difficult for them. Fulham is a team in this league that has the most shots on target, so that poses a big difficulty for us, but we're very confident in what we do. They’ve had 73 shots on target this season, it's a lot if you compare it with Huddersfield who have had around 45. So, it's almost double. It's going to be difficult to defend but we're not far off with more than 60 (attempts on goal). But obviously we know that we have to keep progressing. The defensive side is going to be important and we have to trust our pressing, our youth and our intensity and we need the help of the fans to back us all the way to make things very difficult."

Pep Clotet asked if he was expecting an open encounter against Fulham...
"I'm expecting this game to be a fight for the possession of that ball because Fulham need possession of the ball to establish their game. And when we do not have the ball obviously, we cannot attack, and we want to attack as much as possible. We're not as focused as them on keeping possession of the ball we're much more focused on using that possession to create problems and when we lose it to win it back as soon as possible. Obviously, we know that the more possession that we have the less time that Fulham has to attack, so probably the game will be around the possession."

Fulham manager Scott Parker's 's comments ahead of the game...
"They’re (Blues) a good side with some good players. At home they’re a very good team, we all understand that. Every time I’ve played there it’s always been a tough game, a very hostile place to go. They’ve got players who can cause teams one or two problems, which we’ve seen this year. We’ve seen over the first 15 games that there are no easy matches at this level and come Saturday it’ll be the same. As long as we’re of a positive mindset and we go into the game fully prepared, which we will be, then we’ll be okay. I think it will be an open game. We’re going to have to weather the storm a little bit at times, especially with it being on their patch. They’ll come on the front foot, put us under a little bit of pressure. They pack the midfield; they’ve got a lot of numbers inside the pitch. There’s going to be times on Saturday when they’re going to cause us some problems and we need to weather that storm and come out the back end of it.”

Blues team news...
New signing Jeremie Bela comes into the reckoning after the French forward received international clearance on Thursday afternoon. Blues captain and central defender Harlee Dean will miss the game as he begins a three-match suspension following his red card in the defeat at Cardiff City. Midfielders Gary Gardner (knee) and Maikel Kieftenbeld (knee) remain out. Jefferson Montero is fit and available for selection.

Fulham team news...
Midfielder Harry Arter is a doubt because of injury, as is full-back Joe Bryan.

Last five meetings between Blues and Fulham...
Championship 06 May 2018 Blues 3 Fulham 1
Championship 09 Dec 2017 Fulham 1 Birmingham 0
Championship 04 Feb 2017 Birmingham 1 Fulham 0
Championship 10 Sep 2016 Fulham 0 Birmingham 1
Championship 19 Mar 2016 Birmingham 1 Fulham 1

Total meetings between Blues and Fulham...
Blues wins: 34
Draws: 28
Fulham wins: 28

Form guide...
Blues: WLWWL
Fulham: DLWDL

Line-ups last league game...
Cardiff City v Blues (4-4-2): Camp, Colin, Pedersen, Dean, Roberts, Crowley (Bailey 80), Bellingham (Gimenez 69), Sunjic, Villalba, Mrabti (Maghoma 65), Jutkiewicz
Subs (not used): Trueman, Harding, Clarke-Salter, Davis.

Fulham (4-3-3) v Hull City: Bettinelli; Odoi (Kamara 61'), Mawson, Ream, Bryan (Le Marchand 6'); Johansen, Reed, Cairney; De Cordova-Reid (Knockaert 45'), Aleksandar Mitrovic, Cavaleiro
Subs (not used): Norman, Steven Sessegnon, McDonald, Onomah

Blues remembers...
We're proud to acknowledge Remembrance Day at the Fulham game on Saturday. Blues will be remembering those who have served, sacrificed and changed our world. A number of activities will take place ahead of kick-off and fans are asked to make their way into St. Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium in good time.

Timetable of events:
The two teams will be led out by two former military personnel, who served in the Falklands War.
Prior to kick-off, there will be a period of silence before a bugler will play the last post.
A specially commissioned ‘Blues Remembers’ crowd flag will be unveiled in the Tilton.
Our players will once again wear special-edition shirts embroidered with a poppy. The match-worn shirts will then be signed and made available to purchase in an auction after the game, with all proceeds going to the Royal British Legion.
Volunteers from the Royal British Legion will be selling poppies and the Birmingham City football pin 2019 outside the stadium prior to kick-off.

BluesTV will be streaming the match live to International Subscribers. Those in the Great Britain and Ireland can get exclusive audio commentary. Commentary will be provided by former Blues defender Darren Purse alongside Jonathan Bell. Dale Moon will be joined in the studio by ex-Blues captain Kevan Broadhurst from approximately 2.40pm. For more details about BluesTV, click here.

Match officials...
Jarred Gillett will take charge of this game. So far this season the Australian-born official has refereed 10 games, where he has produced a total of 32 yellow cards but no reds. This is his second season refereeing in England and Saturday's match will be the first time he has refereed either Blues or Fulham. Prior to arriving in the UK to study at Liverpool's John Moore’s University, he was one of Australia’s most experienced match officials, where he was named the A-League Referee of the Year five times. On the international stage, he has been a FIFA International Referee since 2013. Mr Gillett will be assisted at St. Andrew's by Mark Dwyer and Geoffrey Russell, with Lewis Smith acting as the fourth official.

This is a grade b fixture and tickets are on general sale. For prices and purchasing details, click here.

Supporter message...
The Club urges all supporters to be responsible in their behaviour and actions. Birmingham City knows that the overwhelming majority of our supporters do not indulge in anti-social activities and are passionate about the players and the Club. We appreciate this. We adopt a zero-tolerance stance on anti-social behaviour and spectator misconduct. This includes - amongst other things - drunkenness, throwing of missiles and use and carrying of pyrotechnics (flares, smoke bombs), racist and/or homophobic chanting. Pitch encroachment is forbidden and against the law. Please DO NOT encroach onto the pitch. Any person found to be encroaching on the pitch will automatically be served with a banning order - regardless of the circumstances. It is important that bottles, coins, flares and other items not thrown at our matches. Again, we would like to thank the overwhelming majority of supporters for their backing and their understanding.