Man Utd v Birmingham

21 January 2011 12:05
Manchester United are without right-back Rafael, who is serving a one-game ban after his red card last week.Fabio, John O'Shea and Wes Brown are all candidates to replace him, while Paul Scholes may figure at some stage. [LNB]Birmingham can call upon Cameron Jerome and Sebastian Larsson after both missed last weekend's derby with Aston Villa. [LNB]Ben Foster returns to Old Trafford for the first time since his £6m summer move, but defender Scott Dann has been ruled out for the rest of the season. [LNB][LNB]Manchester United[LNB]Suspended: Rafael (one match) [LNB]Injured/unavailable: Hargreaves (hamstring), Park (international duty), Valencia (ankle) [LNB]Birmingham[LNB]Injured: Dann (hamstring), McFadden (knee) [LNB][LNB] MATCH PREVIEW Under-par but still undefeated, the current Manchester United side may not be playing in the vintage style of some of teams built by Sir Alex Ferguson, but his current crop still look like the team to beat.[LNB] The Birmingham games in the last few years haven't produced a lot of goals. Hopefully we can change that trend. Our home form has been very good this season, and it has to be now. It's kicking on time Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United manager The club are only the seventh in top-flight history to remain unbeaten after 21 league matches, and it would take a bold person to bet against them making it 22. Birmingham's defensive strength has been undermined by long-term injury to Scott Dann, and the visitors also have one eye on next week's Carling Cup semi-final second leg against West Ham. [LNB]Among Birmingham's most recent line-up, only Stephen Carr and Barry Ferguson were alive the last time the club beat Manchester United 33 years ago. The Blues won 2-1 at Old Trafford in January 1978, and followed that up with an emphatic 5-1 home win in November of the same year. [LNB]In fact, 1978 is not only a landmark year for Birmingham, it also coincided with Alex McLeish's playing debut for Aberdeen, and subsequently the appointment of Ferguson as Dons manager the following August. [LNB]Ferguson has only ever been beaten five times in 65 Premier League matches by sides managed by any of his former players. McLeish, at the fifth time of asking, is dreaming of finally getting one over his former tutor, and with it ending United's unbeaten run. [LNB][LNB] MATCH FACTS Head-to-head[LNB]• The four previous Premier League matches between Sir Alex Ferguson and Alex McLeish have been tight affairs. Both games at St Andrew's ended in 1-1 draws, while United have edged both matches at Old Trafford 1-0. [LNB]• United have scored in every Premier League home match this season, while Birmingham have scored in seven of 10 away games. [LNB]• Manchester United are the only current top-flight side that Birmingham City have failed to beat during the Premier League era. [LNB][LNB] Can Manchester United remain unbeaten all season? Manchester United[LNB]• United are four points down on Arsenal's 'invincible' squad of 2003/04. United have 12 wins and nine draws from 21 games, compared with the Gunners' 14 wins and seven draws. [LNB]• Sir Alex Ferguson's men have won seven straight Premier League matches at home since a 2-2 draw with West Brom in October. [LNB]• Wayne Rooney has not scored in six home Premier League matches. If he fails to score against Birmingham it will equal his longest ever Premier League run without a home goal, set three years ago this month. [LNB]• If selected, Edwin van der Sar will be making his 300th career Premier League appearance. [LNB]Birmingham[LNB]• The Blues have drawn four of their last seven league fixtures. [LNB]• Stephen Carr has taken 246 throw-ins this season, the most in the Premier League. [LNB]• If selected, Lee Bowyer will be playing in his 450th career league match, while Sebastian Larsson could make his 200th club appearance. [LNB][LNB] LEADING GOALSCORERS [LNB]Manchester United[LNB]Berbatov 15 goals (14 league); Hernandez 9 goals (6 league) [LNB][LNB]Birmingham[LNB]Gardner: 5 goals (4 league); Jerome & Ridgewell: 4 goals (3 league) [LNB][LNB] MATCH OFFICIALS Referee: Mike Jones [LNB]Assistant referees: John Flynn & Andy Madley [LNB]Fourth official: Phil Dowd [LNB][LNB] LAST LEAGUE MATCH LINE-UPS Manchester United (D0-0 v Tottenham, a): Van der Sar; Rafael Da Silva, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Nani (Anderson 61), Carrick, Fletcher, Giggs, Berbatov (Hernandez 78), Rooney. Subs not used: Kuszczak, Owen, Smalling, Scholes, Evans. [LNB]Birmingham (D1-1 v Aston Villa, h): Foster; Carr, Johnson, Ridgewell, Murphy, Bentley, Ferguson, Hleb (Zigic 76), Gardner, Fahey, Derbyshire (Bowyer 84). Subs not used: Taylor, Phillips, Beausejour, Mutch, Jiranek.

Source: BBC_Sport