FOOTBALL journalist Adam Goodwin (@@AdamGoodwin__) takes a look at Sunday's Championship showdown between Bristol City and Leeds at Ashton Gate.
Bristol City v Leeds | Sunday 4th August 2019, 16:30 | Sky Sports
This is arguably the game of the weekend in the EFL, and will be a cracking match-up between two teams aiming to be at the top of the table come the end of the season.
Bristol City missed out on the Championship play-offs by just four points last season, after another solid season under Lee Johnson. They’ve improved their league position every season under the former Robins midfielder and, if they do so again, they could finally find themselves in the top six.
Last season, it was a prolific striker they were missing and, whilst Famara Diedhiou and Andi Weimann chipped in here and there, they bagged 13 and 10 goals respectively. Niclas Eliasson was exciting but inconsistent, but I think this could be the year the Swede really hits top gear. I think he could be key in getting more goals from the City frontmen.
The Robins have managed to secure the services of three of their impressive Chelsea loanees from last campaign, with Tomas Kalas, Jay Dasilva and Kasey Palmer all making their stay at Ashton Gate permanent. They’ve also brought in the exciting Sammie Sczomdics and experienced Championship ‘keeper Daniel Bentley, seemingly setting themselves up nicely for the forthcoming campaign.
However, it seems that star centre-back Adam Webster is on his way out of the club, after Brighton had a £22m bid accepted for the 24-year-old. He was so influential to City last season and, whilst I have no doubt the money will be reinvested, a replacement won’t be bought in before Sunday.
This leaves either Nathan Baker or Bailey Wright to come in, both of who have had knocks in pre-season. Youngsters Zak Vyner and Taylor Moore are potentially other replacements for the weekend – the former being the obvious choice having made 31 appearances for Rotherham last season. However, Webster is almost irreplaceable.
Leeds begin another promotion push
It was an all too familiar story for Leeds fans again last season, as they failed to win promotion from the Championship. They spent a large majority of the season in the top two but fell away towards the end of the season, which then led to them losing the play-off semi-final despite being 2-0 up on aggregate with just 45 minutes left to play. It’s now time for Marcelo Bielsa to pick his players and go again.
Keeping Bielsa was a vital bit of business for the club to complete and seemed the only way they would challenge towards the top of the table again this campaign. They enjoyed a really fast start to last season, losing just one of their opening 10 games and scoring 22 goals in that period. I can see a similar thing happening this season and I imagine they’ll be right at the very top of the league come Christmas. Whether they can sustain that is a different question…
The Yorkshire club significantly lost Pontus Jansson to Brentford this summer, after a reported fall-out with the club. Ben White has been brought in on-loan from Brighton and you have to doubt whether he’ll be as talismanic as Jansson was. They have brought in Helder Costa, however, who is a superb player at this level and should make an immediate impact.
Bristol City have won one of their last seven home games in the Championship and only came away victorious in 8/23 (35%) games at Ashton Gate all season – finishing the season 18th in the ‘home’ Championship table. They averaged 2.30 goals a game at home, whilst Leeds scored 35 goals on the road last season and, as I mentioned earlier, I think Leeds will make another fast start.
So, I like the look of Leeds double chance and Over 1 Goal at 4/5 with Bet 365’s Bet Builder.
During that impressive opening few weeks at the start of the 2018/19 campaign, Mateusz Klich appeared to come in from the cold at Leeds and became an important part of Bielsa’s team. He scored two goals in his opening two games last season and 10 in 46 games in the league. He’s 6/1 to find the net on Sunday, which looks slightly overpriced to me.
I also fancy the aforementioned Niclas Eliasson to have an impact in this game. If you can get him to get an assist or to assist Diedhiou (usually priced up on Sky Bet closer to the game), then that’d be something I’d have a small punt on.