It’s four wins, four draws and four defeats for Lee Johnson’s men after 12 Sky Bet Championship games. With the division looking tighter than ever, would you say the season has gone to plan so far?
Yes, I do. Bristol City had a fair amount of upheaval in the summer as they effectively had to sell their three best players: Aden Flint, Joe Bryan and Bobby Reid. Bryan and Reid were approaching the end of their contracts so the club were backed into a corner, and Flint had been wanting to leave for a while because he was getting better offers elsewhere.
The players they’ve recruited have got their best years ahead of them and results so far have been mixed. The message from the club and Lee Johnson is that it is going to take a little bit of time for this new team to gel.
How did the fans react when such a significant trio departed Ashton Gate in the space of one transfer window?
Understandably, they were unhappy, however I think the majority realised that the players themselves wanted to move on and the club couldn’t really do anything to prevent that. Lee Johnson had also premeditated their departures earlier in the season, saying “It could be a difficult summer”.
It wasn’t a massive surprise, but there was still a lot of anger, especially with Reid and Bryan as they were homegrown talents and Bristolians through and through. However, by the end of the summer a lot of fans were on side with what the club had done, having seen the calibre of players that have come through the door.
Andreas Weimann was one of the highest-profile additions to Lee Johnson’s squad and he’s hit the ground running at Ashton Gate having plundered five goals already. Is he the player Brentford fans should be keeping tabs on?
Yes, although he hasn’t scored for about four or five games now. He didn’t start the last game either, but I think that was an effort to keep everybody fresh with the amount of games being played. He’ll most likely start against Brentford, probably alongside Famara Diédhiou.
Marley Watkins is another one to watch out for. He has been in and out of the side but when he has come on in games he’s done pretty well. He’s scored a couple of goals already and I’d say there’s a good chance that he’ll start, too, partly down to rotation but also because of his performances from the bench. I don’t think Lee Johnson knows his best 11 at the moment; he’s still trying to work that out.
How would you describe Bristol City’s style of football and can you give us any indication of team news?
Lee Johnson favours a very attacking style and there are normally quite a few goals scored in their games: last season we had a 5-5, a 5-3 and a 5-0. This year they haven’t been quite as clinical, but they are a positive, high-pressing side. Formation-wise, it’ll be the usual 4-4-1-1. They play with a lot of width and I think it’s only Rotherham United who have managed to keep City penned in their own half this season. They have taken the game to plenty of teams this year, but whenever I’ve seen them play against Brentford, The Bees have dominated the game. City fans don’t like playing against Brentford; they are one of those side who they can never get the better of.
Bristol City have two players who could come back into the reckoning, one of whom is captain Bailey Wright. He hasn’t played at all this season, but I know he returned to First Team training recently and the plan was to give him the international break to catch up with his match fitness. Likewise, with Frank Fielding, but he’ll probably be on the bench as Niki Mäenpää - who they signed from Brighton & Hove Albion in the summer – has been outstanding in goal and will likely keep his place. I wouldn’t expect too many changes from the side that played against Sheffield Wednesday.
What’s your score prediction?
I’ve marked this down as a loss; the only possible ray of light is if The Bees are affected by Dean Smith’s departure. We’ll see how it goes, but I’ll still go for a 2-1 Brentford win.
For the full chat with Gregor plus an exclusive interview with Brentford’s new Head Coach, Thomas Frank, pick up a copy of BEES on Saturday for just £3.50.
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