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Let’s talk about…Birmingham City


After back-to-back home wins, the Swans travel to St Andrews this weekend looking for their third win in a week. Their opponents are Birmingham City, who find themselves in 19th after a run of seven games without a win.

This weekend’s hosts opened the season with a surprise 1-0 win at recently relegated Sheffield United. They followed that up with a 0-0 draw with Stoke and a 2-0 home defeat to Bournemouth. A whopping 5-0 win at Luton saw them move up the table, before a draw at Barnsley and a home win over Derby County on 10th September. Since that victory, they have picked up just two points in seven games, drawing with Preston and Huddersfield and losing to Fulham, Peterborough, QPR, Nottingham Forest and West Brom. In that run, they have scored just once (in a 4-1 home defeat to Fulham), conceding 13.

Their transfer window

First team arrivals

While Swansea were able to bring in the likes of Joel Piroe and Flynn Downes for seven-figure transfer fees, Birmingham relied on free transfers over the summer.

Forward Chuks Aneke arrived after leaving Charlton Athletic. The 28-year-old was once a hot prospect at Arsenal but has since bounced around the lower leagues of English football, while also enjoying a brief spell at Belgian side Zulte Waregem. He is yet to start for his new club, having made 10 appearances off the bench. His first and only goal for the club came in the 5-0 win at Luton.

Former Aston Villa youth product Jordan Graham joined from Gillingham after a short spell. He has made two Championship appearances since his arrival.

Once linked with a £6 million move to Swansea, Ryan Woods completed his move after departing Stoke City. He started their first 11 games but has spent the last two on the bench.

18-year-old Oliver Basey joined from Sunderland, linking up with the Under-23s, while 20-year-old goalkeeper Archie Matthews made the switch from Swindon Town. Matthews has since been loaned to hometown club Bath City.

After a quiet three weeks, Birmingham completed the signing of Troy Deeney on Transfer Deadline Day. The experienced striker spent 11 years at Watford, scoring 131 in 389 league outings for the Hornets. He has played seven times for the Blues, scoring once.

Five players have also arrived on loan. Riley McGree joined from soon-to-be MLS side Charlotte FC. The Australian midfielder spent much of last season on loan at Birmingham, finishing the season with 15 appearances. His loan was extended until 1st January 2022.

21-year-old left-back Juan Castillo joined from Chelsea. He spent last season on loan in the Netherlands, playing for AZ Alkmaar and ADO Den Haag.

Manchester United loaned Tahith Chong to the club for the 2021-22 season. The young midfielder has played 12 games already this season. He made his Premier League debut for the Red Devils in 2018-19.

After spending the second half of the 2020-21 season on loan at Cardiff City, Dion Sanderson arrived from Wolves on a season-long loan. He has played five league games this season. He was joined by fellow Wolves reserve Matija Sarkic. The 24-year-old goalkeeper has been a regular starter.

First team departures

After failing to make a league appearance for Birmingham, 28-year-old keeper Andres Prieto joined Dinamo Tbilisi. 23-year-old Steve Seddon moved to Oxford United whole Charlie Lakin made his move to Burton Albion.

With 11 summer signings, it was inevitable that many would leave on loan. Ryan Stirk, Zach Jeacock and Kane Thompson-Sommers joined Mansfield Town, Salford City and Woking.

Former Valencia midfielder Fran Villalba joined Sporting Gijon on loan, his second loan spell in his native Spain since arriving at Birmingham in 2019. He previously spent 18 months on loan at Almeria.

Elsewhere, Odin Bailey, Josh Andrews and Sam Cosgrove joined Livingston, Rochdale and Shrewsbury Town respectively.

Jonathan Leko has struggled at Birmingham since arriving from rivals West Brom. He joined Charlton Athletic on loan, having enjoyed a productive loan spell there in 2019-20 season.

Their captain

Birmingham City captain Harlee Dean joined the club in 2017, completing a £2 million move from Brentford.

The 30-year-old had a modest start to his career after rising through the ranks at Dagenham & Redbridge. He spent most of his time out on loan, with spells at Redbridge, Bishop’s Stortford, Thurrock, Braintree Town and Gray’s Athletic.

In 2010, he joined Southampton, then in League One. Six months later, he was loaned out for his second spell at Bishop’s Stortford.

His stay at Southampton was short. He joined then-League One Brentford on loan in November 2011, before signing on a permanent deal in 2012. He made 28 appearances during his loan spell. He remained at Brentford for five years, playing more than 200 league games over his two spells.

In 2017, he signed for Birmingham. He has gone on to make more than 170 league appearances. He started their first 11 games this season but was an unused substitute in their two most recent games.

Their manager

With an England cap and hundreds of Premier League appearances to his name, Lee Bowyer enjoyed an impressive playing career before hanging up his boots in 2012.

He started his career at Charlton Athletic, playing in 46 second tier games in his two seasons in the senior team.

In 1996, he joined Leeds United, then a regular in the Premier League. He made 32 appearances in his debut season as the club finished 11th. Over his seven-year tenure at Leeds, he played 203 Premier League games, scoring 38 goals. He also won the club’s Player of the Year awards.

He spent the second half of the 2002-03 season on loan at West Ham, with the view to a permanent deal if they avoided relegation. However, after an injury-hampered season, West Ham were relegated, and Bowyer departed Leeds on a free transfer.

He joined Newcastle in 2003, where he spent three seasons. The spell is most likely remembered for a bizarre incident that occurred during a game in 2005. Bowyer was shown a straight red card after an on-pitch fight with Keiron Dyer, his own teammate. Both were given an automatic three-game ban and fined £30,000, while the club fined him six weeks’ wages. This proved to be his final season at the club as he joined West Ham United in June 2006.

He spent three seasons at West Ham, albeit the second half of his final season saw him loaned to Birmingham City. He made 17 Championship appearances for the Blues as they were promoted back to the Premier League. He remained at the club for two full seasons, featuring in 74 Premier League games. He also won the League Cup in 2011, beating Arsenal in the final.

He joined Ipswich for the 2011-12 season, which proved to be his final season as a player.

Bowyer briefly coached with Watford Under-21s, before returning to Charlton Athletic. He became assistant manager in July 2017, before taking over as caretaker manager in March 2018. After impressing in his temporary duties, he was given the full-time job in September 2018. He led them back to the Championship that season, beating Sunderland in the play-off final.

Charlton were relegated back to League One a year later, losing to Leeds United 4-0 on the final day to cement their return. With Charlton in eighth place, Bowyer resigned in March 2021. He took over at Birmingham the following day, steering them safe from relegation.

Previous meetings with Birmingham City

19th September 2020

In a low-key affair, the Swans were held to a goalless draw at home by Birmingham City. Morgan Gibbs-White, who scored the winner on the opening day, came close in the first half, while Birmingham captain Harlee Dean’s header was denied by Freddie Woodman.

Both sides kept their second clean sheet in as many games, picking up four points from their opening two games.

Full time – Swansea City 0-0 Birmingham City

 2nd April 2021

With both sides at opposite ends of the table, third-place Swansea travelled to relegation-threatened Birmingham, looking to close the gap on the automatic promotion places. Swansea lost their previous two games without scoring a goal.

Birmingham were awarded a penalty shortly after the half-hour mark, but Lukas Jutkiewicz’s strike was saved comfortably by Freddie Woodman.

Yan Dhanda had a free-kick saved, before giving away a second penalty of the game in the 90th minute. This time, Scott Hogan stepped up, putting his penalty away to give Birmingham all three points.

Full time – Birmingham City 1-0 Swansea City

Match Preview

After back-to-back wins, Swansea have started to find form under Russell Martin. Last weekend’s derby win gave everyone at the club a real boost of momentum, before the impressive win over West Brom on Wednesday.

Flynn Downes is a doubt this weekend, while Michael Obafemi and Jay Fulton could both return to the squad. After coming on at half time, Olivier Ntcham will likely start against Birmingham, with Korey Smith filling in for Downes should he be unavailable. After missing the last game, Ryan Manning has also been cleared for this weekend.

The in-form Jamie Paterson and Joel Piroe will be looking to extend their fantastic form. Both scored and assisted in the win on Wednesday, while Paterson scored once and assisted twice (to Piroe and Jake Bidwell) in the victory over Cardiff.

Maxime Colin and Jeremie Bela were both ruled out of Birmingham’s draw with Huddersfield. It is unknown whether either will be available against Swansea.

Expect another physical game, with Birmingham operating a similar style to Cardiff and West Brom. The return of Obafemi should give Swansea more goalscoring threat, while Ntcham’s improved fitness could see him make a greater impact.

After this game, Swansea host Peterborough on Saturday 30th October at 3pm.


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Matt Williamshttps://mjwwrites.wordpress.com/
My name is Matt Williams. I am a 24-year-old journalism graduate and aspiring sports journalist from South Wales. I am a fan of Swansea City, and regularly write about the team on my own personal blog. I also support the Carolina Panthers, and I am an avid follower of the Welsh national teams in football and rugby.

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