Bolton Wanderers v Birmingham City
Saturday 29 December, 2012
Setting The Scene
Wanderers welcome Birmingham City to the Reebok this weekend, with Dougie Freedman’s side looking to bounce back from their Boxing Day defeat to Sheffield Wednesday.
The two teams are currently level on points, with the Blues securing a welcome 2-1 win at Barnsley on their last outing to push them clear of the Championship’s drop zone.
Last season the side from St. Andrew’s fought superbly on several fronts, competing in the Europa League, taking Chelsea to a replay in the fifth round of the FA Cup and narrowly losing out to Blackpool in the play-off semi-finals.
Over the summer, last season’s boss Chris Hughton departed for Norwich and was replaced by former Huddersfield Town manager Lee Clark.
They began this campaign with some steady results, but an astonishing 5-0 drubbing at home to Barnsley towards the end of September forced Clark to publicly apologise to fans for the team’s display.
A disappointing run of form throughout October and November followed, in which they picked up just two wins in 11 league games.
One To Watch - Nikola Zigic
The giant striker first came to prominence playing for Red Star Belgrade in his native Serbia, where he averaged more than a goal every other game.
He moved to La Liga in the summer of 2006 when he joined Racing Santander and continued to flourish in Spain. His performances persuaded Valencia to part with a reported fee of £12m to secure his services, but he enjoyed a mixed spell at the Mestalla.
Alex McLeish then paid £6m ahead of the 2010/11 season to recruit the 6ft 8” Serb and he scored at Wembley in the Blues’ Carling Cup final victory over Arsenal.
Zigic remained at Birmingham despite relegation to the Championship at the end of his first season in England and hit double figures last term, including all four goals in the Blues’ 4-1 win over Leeds at Elland Road.
Keith Andrews, David Ngog and Benik Afobe are all doubtful, with the trio picking up knocks on Boxing Day.
Mark Davies remains sidelined with a shoulder injury, and neither Matt Mills nor Stuart Holden will be fit in time for the visit of the Blues.
Josh Vela and David Wheater (both knee) are also out.
Birmingham were without leading scorer Marlon King (knee) and midfielder Papa Bouba Diop (hamstring) for their last two fixtures and neither are expected to be fit for the clash at the Reebok.
All Time Record
Bolton wins Draws Birmingham wins
League 46 32 39
FA Cup 2 0 2
TOTAL 41 32 48
Man In The Middle - Simon Hooper
The Wiltshire-based referee has officiated a total of 20 games this season and has shown a total of 51 yellow cards. He has also shown two red cards.
The FanZone facility will be available to supporters before the game. Doors open at midday and offers include: pie, peas and gravy for 75p and 12” pizzas for £2.90.