Bristol City vs Swansea | Friday 20th August 2021, 19:45 | Sky Sports
Bristol City welcomes Swansea to Ashton Gate on Friday night as they go in search of back-to-back wins since last February.
The Robins claimed their first victory of the campaign in midweek away at Reading, whilst Swansea are still adjusting to life under Russell Martin, who was only appointed a few days before the season began. The Swans have one win, one draw and two defeats to their name under the stewardship of the former MK Dons boss in all competitions.
Robins manager Nigel Pearson elected to freshen up his team for the trip to a weakened Reading on Tuesday, bringing back the experienced duo of Tomas Kalas and Danny Simpson into the back four, whilst Cameron Pring took on a left midfielder role as they reverted to a 4-4-1-1 shape, with Andi Weimann playing into support of lone striker Chris Martin.
This shake-up appears to have done the trick and helped correct some of the issues they’d be experiencing in their opening matches. They came under pressure late on but held strong in the end, which no doubt will have boosted confidence.
A sterner test is expected on Friday however, and this is a Swans outfit still getting into line with their new identity, which of course will naturally take some time. The high pressing game from Stoke has been a bit of a blueprint for all opponents to Martin’s men this season, and it once more proved successful and undoubtedly Pearson will be adopting a similar approach when out of possession.
It is situations like this which increase nerves amongst the supporters and naturally creates a tricky atmosphere, so it is perhaps ideal they are back on the road again. They’ll improve over time, but for now their style of play is causing big issues when being turned over inside their own half.
In defence of Swansea, they are having to try and do this without some key players through injury. Kyle Naughton and Ryan Bennett are certain starters in the back three, whilst Korey Smith and Liam Walsh are natural ball players who would thrive in this kind of setup.
Martin has a thin squad at his disposal anyway and that is reflected by the youthful look on his bench in recent weeks. Ethan Laird has joined on loan from Manchester United and could make his full debut, whilst Joël Piroe has impressed off the bench of late as he settles into life in a new country.
It would be expected that Bristol City name an unchanged XI for this one having struck a winning formula for now. The question now is if they can replicate their away day success at home, but with Swansea likely to dominate a big percentage of the possession then it shouldn’t be too much of a concern for them.
It’ll really be a case of looking to repeat their antics of Tuesday on Friday, and they should be confident of getting another win under their belts.
Man-for-man, Swansea are stronger than Bristol City, but I think this run of midweek games early in the season will possibly be more of a hindrance to Swansea. Whilst you could argue it is a chance to get them used to the new style of play, they’d probably rather do so on the training ground and of course when midweek games are around then it becomes more about rest and recovery rather than a huge amount of tactical work, even more so considering they have injuries and can’t risk too many more.
I’m still to be convinced by Bristol City, but I think Swansea have more questions to answer at this moment in time. The league table come the end of the season will truly reflect ‘who is better’, but I’d say Bristol City are a little more stable right now. I’ll take a punt on the home win at 7/4 (Betfred), but I’d also expect Both Teams To Score as well, and a price of 11/10 (MansionBet) is too good to refuse.
I’d naturally expect this to be a tight game anyway, so I’ll also take a chance on a Correct Score of 2-1 at 11/1 (BetVictor).