Blues welcome in-form Brighton at the end of a tumultuous week at St Andrew’s.

The sacking of managers is so common in football nowadays that it takes a particularly baffling decision to raise eyebrows.

Step forward Birmingham City, who disposed of Gary Rowett and replaced him with Gianfranco Zola this week despite the 42-year-old leading Blues to within three points of third on a limited budget.

The Italian could not have asked for a much harder start in the hotseat. Brighton travel to St Andrew’s unbeaten in the league since September and eight points clear of third place as themselves and Newcastle battle it out in the automatic promotion places.

Gianfranco Zola

The Key Battle – Jonathan Grounds vs Anthony Knockaert

Brighton’s wing wizard is a key part of his side’s success, with the 25-year-old’s trickery and creativity providing a more than useful asset fo Chris Hughton’s men.

He will be looking to cause more havoc against Grounds, who is a regular fixture on the left hand side of Birmingham’s defence.

Anthony Knockaert of Brighton and Hove Albion celebrates after scoring their first goal

Last Meeting:

Brighton did the double over Birmingham last season, winning both matches 2-1. The most recent of those was at St Andrew’s in April, as Lewis Dunk’s winner ensured the points returned to the south coast.

Blues have a poor recent record in this fixture, having won just one of their last 10 matches against Albion.

Kazenga Lualua of Brighton and Hove Albion and Jacques Maghoma of Birmingham City

Recent league form – most recent last:

Birmingham – DWWLLW

Brighton – WDWDWW

Who’s the ref?

Andrew Madley will oversee proceedings in the Midlands.

Madley has taken charge of 21 matches this season, showing 64 yellow cards and one red in the process.

Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton

What time is kick off?

The match starts at 5.30pm.

Where can I watch it?

Sky Sports 1 is the place to see Zola’s Blues bow, with coverage starting at 5.15pm.


Birmingham – 5/2

Draw – 21/10

Brighton – 6/5

In other news, Report: Ancelotti had phone call with Everton target last week, £20m fee required