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West Brom vs Birmingham City- Midlands derbies reignited

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The criteria of a derby in football is often a heated topic. How much two teams hate each other, which one is bigger than than the other, how loud the fanbases are. There’s a lot of factors to weigh up, with West Brom vs Wolves last weekend magnifying what defines a ‘proper derby’.

The crowd chaos at West Brom vs Wolves brought the ferocity of Midlands derbies back into the minds of English football fans.

They are fixtures that bring animosity amongst the fanbases. Interestingly, Birmingham and West Brom are not the greatest of rivals though which brings up a question.

Who hates who in the Midlands?

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It is difficult to assess the level of rivalry between the clubs in the Midlands, but it is a fair assumption to say that West Brom and Birmingham have a strong hatred for Aston Villa and Wolves in common and the same can be said the other way.

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Transfers between clubs

It’s been a regular occurrence in the last two decades for players to switch between West Brom and Birmingham.

Ben Foster, Liam Ridgewell and Geoff Horsfield all made the switch in the latter stages of their career and did not face much animosity for doing so. Had they gone from Birmingham to Wolves or Villa, the reception may have been a bit frostier.

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West Brom- the season so far

West Brom have had a good season so far, as Carlos Corberan continues to over perform amidst troubling financial issues at the club.

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This is mainly thanks to their exceptional home form this season. From their matches at The Hawthorns this season, West Brom have amassed 30 points from 14 matches, while away from home they have got just 15 from the same number of matches.

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Michael’s prediction – West Brom 2 – 0 Birmingham City

In their recent form with Birmingham, West Brom have had a tough time, losing their last four fixtures between the two clubs. So on this point, the Baggies are due a win over Blues.

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Birmingham City- the season so far

Where to start with Birmingham this season.

A campaign which began with such promise after the Knighthead Capital takeover and a city galvanised by the uplifting spirt added by the additions of chairman Tom Wagner, CEO Garry Cook and chairman of the advisory board, Tom Brady.

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The recruitment team led by Craig Gardner, formerly of Birmingham and West Brom, signed 12 players last summer. Former West Brom players Tyler Roberts and Oliver Burke joined Blues, both yet to make a breakthrough into the starting 11.

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However, the window on a whole was successful. Lee Buchanan, Siriki Dembélé, Dion Sanderson, Krystian Bielik and Koji Miyoshi are expected to be mainstays in the squad for years to come. Loan signings Jay Stansfield and Cody Drameh have impressed, with Blues fans hopeful they will extend their stay past this season.

John Eustace’s last game in charge of Birmingham in October came against none other than West Brom, a 3-1 victory and their fourth in a row against the Baggies.

Then came Wayne Rooney.

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A managerial appointment that produced lots of social media numbers, but not a lot of numerical change in Championship points. Two wins from 15 games took Birmingham from 5th to 20th, practically derailing the season.

Mowbray magic

Tony Mowbray is now Blues boss, a manager who took West Brom to Championship glory in the 2007/08 season.

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This West Brom side was well-renowned for their style of football, well beyond their years with a forward-thinking, progressive team which scored 88 goals in the season, 19 more than second-placed Stoke City.

Some of this attacking vigour seems to have rubbed off on the Birmingham players. Back-to-back wins against Hull and Stoke have got the fanbase back on side with the team. This doesn’t sound like much, but after the last three months Birmingham fans have endured, any positives will do.

Sam’s Prediction- West Brom 2 – 2 Birmingham City

Transfer activity changes the landscape for this game.

Birmingham have signed Andre Dozzell on loan from QPR, Paik Seung-ho from Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Alex Pritchard on deadline day from Sunderland, reuniting with Mowbray after their stint together at Sunderland. All three are capable on the ball, a mindset Mowbray is looking to introduce to the team.

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If Birmingham try and keep the ball, they must remain composed as the atmosphere at The Hawthorns will be hostile.

A victory for Blues would mean five in a row over the Baggies, an impressive feat considering West Brom went nine games unbeaten before this recent stretch.

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A point would be acceptable in Blues’ current predicament, but a win would go so far. It would boost morale and give the players and fans confidence that something can be salvaged from this season.

Authors

  • Sam Sheppey

    Sam is a 22 year-old sports journalist from Hertfordshire with experience in football and golf, writing for club media with Stevenage F.C, blog posts with The Football Pink, magazine articles with Greenways Publishing as well as podcasting for Birmingham City fan channel Blues Focus. Link to portfolio https://muckrack.com/sam-sheppey/portfolio

  • Michael Thomas

    Sports writer, cricket fan (emphasis on fan, not expert) and self-pitying West Bromwich Albion supporter. Always open to researching and writing about different topics.