YOU WOULDN'T HAVE picked Birmingham to be sitting in the bottom three at the start of the season because they have made big strides in the time since winning promotion to the Premiership.
The have made strides as a team and as a club - and they enjoy a fantastic fanbase. It is probably one of the most vocal crowds you can play in front and St Andrews is a difficult place to visit. That has been the case for most teams who have played there.
Birmingham have had problems this season, problems with injuries and at stages they have been without some of their key players. Certainly David Dunn is one rated very highly and has missed a fair bit of football in the last couple of seasons. Mikael Forssell is another one, when fit and in form he is one of the best around and we are all aware of what Emile Heskey can do on his day.
A combination of a few things has probably seen them not have the season they would have liked to have had.
We all know confidence plays a big part in your ability to win games and when you are on a winning streak it often becomes easier to continue to winning - even when you are not playing well. I don't think that has happened for Birmingham this season, but one thing that always remains consistent is that it is always a difficult place to go and play.
They have have quality and a lot of that quality is now back in the side with Dunn, Nicky Butt, Jermaine Pennant - one of the best crossers around from acute and tight angles - and when you have an aggressive Heskey looking to head those crosses it does pose a threat.
The driving force from midfield has always been a particular strength at Birmingham and they have good players in wide positions. Stan Lazaridis is always going to be an attack-minded option and he usually produces when he gets into good areas.
With Birmingham battling to avoid the drop it is probably not a good time to go and play them, but we have got to focus on our needs. The fact that a couple of recent results have not gone as planned has put us in a position where it has got tighter and we know we must look after our own performances and not have to rely on other outcomes.
These are the good moments though, to be where we are in the league at this stage of the season with a tough game at Birmingham coming up, is something we would have taken at the start of the season. It is up to us to get a result to put us back on track.
Chris Hughton offers his regular assessment of forthcoming opponents - the next being Birmingham City who we take on at St Andrews on Saturday.