The final round of fixtures before this unique winter World Cup sees Sunderland travel to St Andrews on Friday night to face Birmingham. Birmingham have defied preseason expectations and sit solidly in 10th, coming into this one on the back of a late equaliser at home to Swansea in midweek. Sunderland, whilst only four points behind the Blues, sit in 17th, coming into this on the back of a home loss to Cardiff last weekend – their third in five.
There were many people that predicted Birmingham to go down this season, and questions were asked when John Eustace was appointed in his first senior job in professional football, having been an assistant at QPR for four years prior to this. However, he has done an excellent job and the late Troy Deeney equaliser in midweek prevented a third loss in thirteen and kept their unbeaten four-game run going. Most notable of these results over the past few months are two points against Burnley and Sheffield United, as well as a good 2-0 win over QPR two weeks ago. They will be glad to have Bielik back here after he served a one game suspension but will be concerned over Harlee Dean’s injury in midweek as he picked up a calf knock against Stoke two weeks ago. This is the last game before the break and they will want to continue their good run of form.
Sunderland started their return to the Championship in fine form which got fans dreaming. However, Alex Neil left for Stoke in September and since then, new boss Tony Mowbray has won just two of his last ten matches in charge, both of which were against poor Wigan and Huddersfield sides. However, they’ve been troubled with injuries, particularly up front with last year’s top scorer Ross Stewart and Everton loanee Ellis Simms. However, Simms will be available here and likely to be in front of a three of Roberts, Diallo and Clarke. They will be without the suspended Luke O’Nien, as well as long term absentees Ballard, Alese and the aforementioned Stewart.
Birmingham City v Sunderland Bet Builder Tips
Birmingham City to Win
These are two teams, like everyone, that will be looking to go into the break on a positive. A win for Birmingham would put them on the cusp of the top six, whilst a win for Sunderland will help to ease some of the worries of relegation that have started to creep in amongst the fanbase. Birmingham are unbeaten in six at home and have kept four clean sheets in those games, which has helped them to be the second best defence in the league by conceding only 18 goals in 20 and only eight in ten. This has not been undeserved and they have had over one expected goal in four of these six matches, hitting 2.75xGF against Bristol City. Defensively, the numbers suggest that this form can continue considering that they have conceded less than one xGA in five of their last six at home and were unfortunate to concede twice to Swansea, who only managed 0.43 xGF.
Tony Mowbray and Sunderland will be glad for the break that’s coming up. Not only will it allow key players like Ross Stewart to come back in but it will be a chance for him to regroup his players and try to reinforce his ideas since he’s only been at the club for a short amount of time. Only two wins in ten is a big concern for the Black Cats, with only one on the road in their last five. Whilst they have been missing their main man Stewart, they have struggled more in creating chances than finishing them, only recording over 1 expected goal in four of their last ten, and defensively they have conceded 8.43 xG over their last five at an average of 1.69xGA per match. Whilst stats are not the most important factor to consider, they are struggling at both ends of the pitch in terms of chances created and Mowbray has a lot to work on. Considering Birmingham’s strengths so far this season, Sunderland could struggle to break them down here and I think there’s value in a home win.
Ellis Simms to have 3+ Shots
Ellis Simms’ minutes have been steadily growing since returning to action two weeks ago at Luton after being out for six weeks after picking up an injury after 36 minutes against Reading. Sunderland have missed him, as well as Stewart, in the period he’s been gone and he is now the main man. Before his injury, he had 18 shots in the six games that he played 59 minutes or more in and had three or more in five of the six games, as well as a massive six at Bristol City on the opening day. Since his return, he has had four shots in 132 minutes but he is looking sharper by the game.
Strikers have consistently managed to hit two shots per game against Birmingham this season, and whilst three has been more of a rarity, plenty of players have managed the feat. In the last 10, Nick Powell, Jay Rodriguez, Hayden Hackney, Oli McBurnie and Iliman Ndiaye have managed a shot at goal at least three times. Given that Simms will be a lone striker here, he’ll have plenty of opportunities. It is worth noting that Sunderland have had an extra few days of recovery after not having a midweek gameweek, so they might be able to potentially create a few more chances for Simms given that they should have less fatigue.
Over 3.5 Cards
Both of these teams average a high number of cards per game. Birmingham games see 4.40 cards per game and four of their last six home games have had five or more cards. They have drawn at least two cards in eight of their ten and three in 50% of their games. Whilst Birmingham’s numbers are decent, Sunderland’s averages are very high for this market. They average 4.89 cards per game and a massive 5.30 cards per 90. They draw 2.10 cards per game but receive an enormous 3.2 on the road. Nine of their ten away games and eight of their nine home games have seen this line land,
Another angle I like is over 2.5 Sunderland cards at 15/8 which has landed in six of Sunderland’s ten away games. Birmingham have also drawn three in five of their ten home games.
Over 4.5 Birmingham City Corners
Birmingham rank amongst the very highest in the league in terms of the number of corners they’ve received so far this season. They average 5.20 corners per game, and at St Andrews this rises to 5.80, with 58 corners in 10 games. In seven of the ten, they have had at least six corners, including in four of the last six. In midweek they racked up a massive 12 here against Swansea. Sunderland also tend to concede plenty of corners. They concede six corners per game and 6.60 on the road. They have conceded at least five in seven of their ten away games, and at least eight in two of their last five.
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How to watch Birmingham City v Sunderland in the Championship?
📅 When is Birmingham City v Sunderland? / Friday, 11th November 2022, 8:00PM
🏟 Where is Birmingham City v Sunderland? / St. Andrews (Birmingham)
📺 What TV channel is Birmingham City v Sunderland on? / Sky Sports Football
🟨 …And who is the referee for Birmingham City v Sunderland? / A. Madley 🏴