Friday, 17 March 2017

Birmingham City vs Newcastle United Live Stream Championship Match Preview & Betting Prediction 2017

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On Saturday afternoon in the Championship, Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle United will hope to extend their lead at the top of the Championship, as they take on Gianfranco Zola’s Birmingham City at St Andrew’s. Birmingham City are seventeenth with it still looking uncertain as to whether they’ll be strong enough to finish in a stable condition under Gianfranco Zola, who has been a controversial appointment by the club’s owners. Newcastle United remain top but are being constantly challenged by Chris Hughton’s Brighton & Hove Albion, who are even on points but behind The Magpies by a whisker. Rafa Benitez needs to lead his side to as many points as they can get if they wish to continue as title favourites.

Birmingham have won just twice with Gianfranco Zola in charge

Many have been bewildered by Birmingham City’s season, with the club’s owners definitely seeming like the ones to blame. Gary Rowett was at the helm, pushing them to a potential play-off finish, with it looking massively likely as they’d played to some incredible results by the mid-way point. It made little sense when the club decided to sack Rowett, bringing in Gianfranco Zola as his replacement, where the Italian has ruined the team’s progress and returned them back to being a struggling side in the second tier. The outlandish decision by the owners has had them going from a play-off contender into an outside favourite for relegation, currently sat at seventeenth, with just six points holding them back from a move into the dropzone.

Gianfranco Zola now has two wins and four draws from sixteen games in charge, with it looking a poor choice by the club regardless of how much time they put into hoping he can turn things around. Their best result was at the start of February, where they defeated Fulham at home by a single goal. At best, their tactic tends to be to hold their opposition to draws, as they have very little firepower in their squad to do much else. Striker Lukas Jutkiewicz has been one of the only positive performers this season, scoring eleven goals. Other players in the squad dropped in form the second Rowett departed, with Clayton Donaldson once adding to the team’s goal tally before he left, but now sitting with just six and unlikely to build on it.

Newcastle have scored a fantastic seventy goals in the Championship

Despite spending £50m in the summer and being led out by former Champions League winning manager Rafa Benitez, Newcastle United still haven’t found their attempts at an immediate return to the Premier League as being completely straight-forward. They sit top of the Championship with them still looking favourites to clinch the title, but they did spend some time being way further in front, which they let slip in some disappointing games. Their most recent fixture was hosting Slavisa Jokanovic’s Fulham, who had made a late claim for the play-offs, and showed their worth at St James’ Park by thrashing The Magpies by three goals to one. If they don’t bounce back here, second place Brighton could overtake, as they are even on points with them.

The attacking flair which Rafa Benitez has brought to the side has seen them making the most of the players they have, while adding to the squad in ways that have made them more threatening to opposition sides. Dwight Gayle was a clever signing by the Spanish boss, as he wasn’t always making appearances for Crystal Palace but has made a big impact in the Championship, scoring twenty-one goals and reigning supreme as favourite for the Golden Boot. There’s also been plenty of contributions from Matt Ritchie, Ayoze Perez, Yoan Gouffran, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Daryl Murphy and Jonjo Shelvey. Although it looks possible for Brighton to overtake them in future weeks, they’re clear from the play-offs by six points, which will be something to fall back on if all else fails.

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