McCarthy’s record in Black County bashes is not the best

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The local derby against Birmingham; it's a dangerous fixture in many ways for Mick McCarthy's Wolves side this weekend.

With their current form as it is, things can seemingly get no worse; but to lose at home against deadly rivals would pile even more pain on a club that's had more than its fair share already this season. 

Of course, those of a glass-half-full persuasion could look at the derby as a chance to put things right. At least a little, anyway.

These games tend to see form go out of the window, something that will surely benefit Wolves; anything can happen and McCarthy will be aware of the boost to morale that a win would bring.

This will be McCarthy's first West Midland's derby of the season, and he'll be looking to improve his record somewhat from last season when he managed two points from four games against the Birmingham-based sides.

Even more food for thought is that both points were taken from games against Villa; Alex McLiesh's Birmingham side clearly pose problems for Wolves.

The wily Scot has taken Birmingham to new heights since joining in 2007 after a less than successful reign as Scotland boss. Their intent in the Premier League signalled with some astute signings over the summer; including the ex-Arsenal winger Alexander Hleb.

McCarthy may be wondering exactly how to break The Blues down, their defence having been in good form recently. Ben Foster is looking every bit as good as most expected him to be in between the sticks and he is dutifully backed up by Roger Johnson, Scott Dann, Liam Ridgewell and Stephen Carr.

They managed to keep an admirable clean sheet against Chelsea thanks to some outstanding goalkeeping from Foster and they have only conceded five goals in their last five Premier League matches.

They are not, however, impenetrable; one fine example would be away at Stoke where they conceded three, having dragged the game back from 2-0 down to 2-2 only to see it all slip away.

McCarthy should be looking at how Tony Pulis' side managed to push and pull Birmingham's defence in order to open the space to create chances. Maybe the defence was having an off-day, but if Wolves' attacking players can manipulate Birmingham's defence, they stand a chance of winning the game.

One big worry for the away manager is the lack of goals from his strikers.

Having brought in gargantuan striker Nikola Zigic in the summer to bolster his attack, stats tell us that they have scored only 17 goals all season, five in their last five and Craig Gardner, a defensive-minded midfielder, is their top scorer in the league this season.

McCarthy will be likely to field a more attacking side at home and, again, will be looking to his top-performers to bring home the bacon in front of the home fans; Matt Jarvis, Kevin Doyle and Stephen Hunt will all know what needs to be achieved and that they must be central to it.

It's another tough test for the home side, with pressure mounting on the boss and, maybe, his position. Wolves are still in touch with safety, which is crucial to keep the players positive and believing they can still battle to survival over the coming months.

A local derby is always likely to bring excitement, twists and turns. Let's hope this one is no different and Wolves can walk away with a win come Sunday afternoon.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.

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Wolverhampton Wanderers

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