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First Team

Hot Off The Press: Bristol City

Gregor MacGregor previews The Robins visit to TW8

3 February 2021

It’s third time lucky for this game, which was postponed twice due to Covid-related issues in January. How has the last month been, from a Bristol City perspective?

It has been up and down, really. They’ve won five of the last eight games, but two of those have been in the FA Cup, so another way of looking at it is that their league form isn’t too good at the moment, especially on the road. They lost 1-0 at Derby on Saturday in what pretty much every fan will recognise was a poor display and Dean Holden, after the game, said that performance levels were nowhere near what was expected and they deservedly lost the game. That was their fifth defeat in a row away from home and they’ve got a few problems on the road at the moment.

Coming out of the festive period, Dean Holden’s men had quite a significant injury crisis on their hands. To what extent has that improved since?

It is slowly improving. The problem is that they’ve got three or four players coming back but they still aren’t quite ready for first team action and they are still missing around eight to 10 players, on the whole. They recalled five guys from loan spells elsewhere in January and at least two or three of those have picked up injuries since coming back to Ashton Gate. They’ve got a problem there and the club is looking into whether there’s a link between all of these injuries.

It was a quiet window for the majority of EFL clubs, but what did you make of City’s business in January, in terms of both incomings and outgoings?

Overally, it was OK. As I said, they brought back five of their younger players from loans and that was a sensible move, just to swell the squad numbers at the moment. With the congested fixture list and the tight turnaround between games, obviously, injuries are up across the board currently, so they do need that bigger squad. Henri Lansbury was signed after leaving Aston Villa last Friday. We were hoping they might have made one addition to help them out and bring more quality to the squad and, in Lansbury, if they can get him back to his best, he would certainly qualify as that. He’s not played a lot recently, though, and we might have to be patient to see him in action. The only other thing is that they are pretty short of left-backs and the club were looking for a left-back on Deadline Day, though they didn’t manage to get one in the end.

Which player should Brentford fans be keeping an eye on this Wednesday night?

Nahki Wells is the man to watch out for, on paper, but he hasn’t really carried his QPR form over to playing for Bristol City and he has been in and out of the team recently. Elsewhere, Famara Diedhiou is the in-form man up front; he’s the club’s top scorer with eight goals and has five in his last six games. Possibly more important at the moment is Antoine Semenyo (pictured above), who is a young player having a good breakthrough season. He’s very good on the ball and causes players plenty of problems when he’s running at defences.

How is Holden likely to set up his side at the Brentford Community Stadium?

They’ve actually switched from a 3-5-2 to more of a straightforward 4-4-2 recently, which is to do with injuries as well as getting the best out of the players they have available. When they play 4-4-2, it means they can get a bit more out of Wells and, since Kasey Palmer was recalled from Swansea, he’s been playing out wide on the left. Apart from the Derby game, that has worked well but I wouldn’t be surprised, given that they are playing the top scorers in the division on Wednesday, if they switched back to a 3-5-2.

It’s 13 months since the last meeting, in which Brentford recorded a thumping 4-0 win. What’s your score prediction for this one?

Bristol City have had good results at Brentford in their last three trips, but on the road, as I mentioned, they’ve been pretty poor. It doesn’t make too much sense, but I’m going to go for a bog-standard 1-1 draw!

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