Blues look to equal landmark run
irmingham manager Alex McLeish has challenged his side to make history by avoiding defeat against Wigan in tomorrow's clash at St Andrew's. Blues will equal the club's top-flight record of 18 games unbeaten at home if they draw or defeat the Latics, and McLeish has revealed the determination amongst his players for that run to continue. City went down to visiting Aston Villa and then Bolton in the early part of last season - their first back in the Premier League. But since then they have avoided defeat in front of their own fans and last season shared the spoils with Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester City and Liverpool. McLeish said: "This seems to be the topic this week of the media. I'm aware of the headlines telling everyone that is the case. "I'm sure people reading that will be thinking 'this will be the one where they finally lose that record after talking about it so much'. "I can't avoid that. We have a great home record - and we want to preserve it. "The players have got to give me everything and to do everything in their power to preserve it. "We know some day we will lose at St Andrew's but they won't go down without fighting. "It is tough to go away from home and win games in the Premier League." McLeish added: "We know by and large that home form keeps you in the league and away form sees you climbing it, which is why we finished in our best-ever position last season (ninth). "In my first season at Birmingham we went down because our home form wasn't good enough. There were too many draws. "If we had turned one of those into a win, we would have stayed up. That shows how crucial the home games are. "So we have got to make ourselves as tough as possible, as we did last season, to be defeated at St Andrew's." Midfielder Craig Gardner will be searching for his fifth goal of the campaign and has been described in some quarters as the West Midlands' answer to Frank Lampard. McLeish said: "I hope that is the case. If Craig has half as good a career as Frank, then he will be some player. "He has scored four goals, has great striking accuracy from outside the box with both feet, but he is also a player that will support the box. "He could do worse than study Lee Bowyer's style over the years, with Lee ghosting into the box on many occasions in his career and scoring goals. "Craig has got to learn by playing when to make these runs and when the right moments are to do that." McLeish is looking for his side to bounce back from their 3-1 defeat at West Brom - their first of the campaign. He said: "We have to be more of a threat in the last third, get players into forward areas, but we didn't really get out of our own half last week. "It wasn't a case of us defending, it was more that we were disjointed and there was no real shape and cohesion to the team. "But I do blame it on the two individual errors that led to the goals. "Goals change games and it gave West Brom and their fans an enormous lift and they really controlled things after that."
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