So this is it then! Third plays fourth whilst the Saints face a tricky away game at Palace. If Claret & Blue triumphs in both games, it really is game on; if our home hoodoo continues and Southampton thump Palace, we can just about forget dreams of automatic promotion.
Allardyce faces a selection dilemma despite the thumping of Barnsley. Cole scored against Birmingham at St Andrews, remember, and netted against them in the League Cup semifinal last season. Horses for courses, or does Allardyce stick with Maynard?
Meanwhile, there is the terrible Zigic factor. We can't play the guy and Nolan seemed to understand that when he raked the Birmingham man shortly after he took to the field in the corresponding fixture in Birmingham. If Faye isn't there, Tomkins and Reid will have their work cut out. But Demmel at right back will help. That's four big men at the back, frustrating Zigic's tactic of pulling onto the back post to be marked by a smaller man. Diop may even start too, in place of O'Neil, to deal with the beanpole when he drops deeper for crosses.
Unlike Barnsley, Birmingham are in good form so this is a huge test! Meanwhile Southampton travel to a badly out of form Palace. It doesn't bode well does it? But should Palace win and Brighton do us a favour tomorrow and we beat Birmingham...we will all be Happy Hammers!