Leeds United - Bristol City
Ahead of City's last home game, a relegation six pointer with basement club Rotherham United, I spoke about how they were much stronger than the league table indicated, had put themselves in a good position off the field and had upgraded their squad options hugely in the transfer window.........
I spoke about City in yesterday's Champions update and how I felt they were much better than 20th place would indicate. not much has gone right for them on the pitch , but off it, they are in a good position and will improve season upon season and have the full backing of a very wealthy owner who is 100% committed to Bristol, also owning the rugby and basketball teams. The stadium has been hugely upgraded and City have bid for some expensive players in the last 12 -18 months, they have not yet made that big marquee signing, but it will come.
They were however, hugely busy in the transfer window and head coach Lee Johnson was allowed to add six players in Jens Hegeler, Milan Djuric, Bailey Wright, Fabian Giefer, Matty Taylor and David Cotterill to the Robins squad. That gives him 26 senior players to choose 18 from and all are fit and available for selection today. Taylor is a proven lower level goalscorer who is only the second player in 30 years to make the cross city move from the other Bristol club and the last was given a very tough time in and around the city for many years and was scared to go out in the town centre. Taylor has already been made well aware on social media that this is not the done thing (although not quite as politely), but will have to live with his decision. He and the hugely experienced Cotterill will be looking to make their debuts today, the other four already have and all are at an age to make an immediate impact, the three from Germany and Italy might have needed a few weeks to get up to speed with the game at Championship level, but have now had that.
This is a HUGE game for City, a big crowd will be at Ashton Gate to see the newcomers, they have FOUR, yes four, away games in a row (Derby, Leeds, Newcastle, Villa) after this and they are just about a quartet of the toughest road fixtures possible at this level. The coaching staff have spoken a lot about the upcoming games this week and the need for three points today and to go into those road games having failed to beat the basement team would be pretty much a disaster.
They won that 1-0 and then went to highflying Derby County on Saturday, led 3-0 , but ultimately had to settle for a share of the points. That would have been disappointing, but if you had offered them a point beforehand they would have snatched your hand off and in the cold light of Sunday morning, they would have been delighted with the draw and much of the quality of performance. County had only conceded two goals in their previous nine home league games combined, so three indicated the offensive quality City have when things click and a first goal for Taylor (see above) on his full Championship debut after all the media hoop la concerning his move, augurs well. His goal also served as a wake up call for top scorer Tammy Abraham (pictured), who then replied with a brace to take him to 18 for the season. City had other chances, with Taylor missing a golden opportunity to re-open a three goal advantage at 3-1 and that would surely have been the winner.
I spoke in my post transfer window Championship update about United having overachieved and not, IMO, being as good as the the league table indicated and they have subsequently lost at Huddersfield Town and on Saturday 2-0 at home to Cardiff City, who also got an honourable mention and those notes are already thowing up a lot of winners. I am not writing the hosts off completely, but I spoke about their promotion odds being very skinny and that they were rated superior to teams I know 100% are better (see below). Anyway, the momentum looks to be with just one of these and this feels like a good chance for the visitors to continue to collect a point or three and build some momentum.
1 unit Bristol City +0.25 ball 2.12 asian line/Sportmarket.