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Birmingham City v Aston Villa: Tomasz Kuszczak says derby game will fire up Blues

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Birmingham City goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak says Sunday’s home derby with Steve Bruce’s Aston Villa is the perfect showcase to “do better”.Blues have won their past two home games 1-0 – the first under caretaker boss Lee Carsley – before new manager Steve Cotterill’s victory over Cardiff City in his first game in charge.But they now go into the Villa game on the back of their 2-0 loss at Millwall.

“Our fans are loyal to us. We have to give more,” Kuszczak told BBC WM.”We need to do better and we have the best opportunity next week with the derby game. “Our ground, our fans, our advantage. We have to be 120% on our game.”We have had too many new managers in a short period. It’s very difficult for everyone when the ship is rocking. But stability now is the key to everything.”The most recent Second City derbiesBlues have triumphed in only one of the past 12 Second City derbies – the 2-1 League Cup quarter-final at St Andrew’s in December 2010 – when Nikola Zigic’s late winner put Blues on course to Wembley ecstasy over Arsenal three months later.Kuszczak has kept goal in the past three Blues-Villa derbies, conceding once on each occasion, starting with Rudy Gestede’s League Cup third round winner at Villa Park in October 2015.He was then beaten by Gary Gardner in last season’s corresponding game at St Andrew’s, only for David Davis to equalise.When they then met again at Villa Park in April, in Harry Redknapp’s first game in charge, Gabby Agbonlahor hooked in the only goal of the game from close range.Kuszczak also twice kept goal in Midland derbies against Villa in his time with West Bromwich Albion, in 2005-06 – a 2-1 home defeat – and a 0-0 draw at Villa Park.Blues’ last league derby win came under Steve Bruce in March 2005, a 2-0 victory thanks to goals from Emile Heskey and Julian Gray – one of five derby victories for Bruce, four with Blues, one with Villa. The ups and downs of Blues’ keeper After being left out at the start of the season following the arrival of Harry Redknapp’s summer signing David Stockdale, Kuszczak has now played the last five games.”Every club has competition for places,” he said. “It was no surprise that the club brought in another keeper. I grew up with competition. I’ve always had to fight for my position.”Following the broken wrist suffered by Stockdale at Blues’ Wast Hills training ground, Kuszczak has been pleased with the overall upturn in form since he was restored to the team after Redknapp’s exit.

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But he says that amounts only to Blues’ home form – and is well aware of just how up and down performance levels have been compared to their away record – those successive 1-0 home wins interlaced with a 6-1 drubbing at Hull and Saturday’s poor display at Millwall, in Cotterill’s second game in charge.”We have only one point away this season,” he said. “It’s not enough. It is odd as, in the two seasons before, we have played well away and struggled at home.”In the first nine games of this season, it was really bad, then we had some better results. Then it’s been a little bit funny. “Starting with the Sheffield Wednesday game (1-0), then Hull, when we lost badly, then we beat Cardiff (1-0), then now. But if we keep going in that same rhythm, then it will be a good game for us on Sunday.”
Source: BBC Black Country