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Opposition Insight | Bristol City

17 January 2020

Gregor Macgregor of Bristol Live, spoke to us previewing Barnsley’s trip to the South West as they face Bristol City on Saturday – here’s the view from the opposition camp.

The Reds are back on the road this weekend following another impressive home victory. Goals from Alex Mowatt and the in-form Conor Chaplin saw Barnsley beat Huddersfield 2-1 in the Yorkshire derby last Saturday.

That result for Gerhard Struber, saw him stretch his unbeaten home record to five games, whilst the victory also saw the Reds climb the table to 22nd and just one point from safety.

However, Barnsley face another tough test this weekend in the shape of Lee Johnson’s Bristol City, who are flying in the Sky Bet Championship, as they look to cement their place in the playoffs come the end of the season.

Despite the Robins being perched in 9th, and just one point off Sheffield Wednesday in the final playoff spot, it’s been a difficult couple of weeks for Lee Johnson’s side.

Following their shock exit in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup at League One Shrewsbury Town on Tuesday night, the Robins will be eager to return to winning ways and get that defeat out of their system as soon as possible.

However, the Robins have also been struggling for form in the league of late and are winless in their last two matches and with Barnsley coming to town, it could be a closer game than what the league table currently suggests.

Speaking to Gregor Macgregor of Bristol Live ahead of this anticipated fixture, he said: “Bristol City have only won one game of their last five home games and two of their last nine in all competitions, so the side are not playing well currently.

“There are several injuries to the side too - Tomas Kalas, Nathan Baker, Marley Watkins and Korey Smith - so it could be a good time to play the Robins.

“The Robins need a win. Especially at home where the fans have started getting on the back of the team. So, I expect them to start fast from the off with tempo. Anything less will play into Barnsley's hands. I think it will be a close game, but City may just edge it.”

Lee Johnson has been the man in charge of Bristol City since he left Oakwell for Ashton Gate in 2016.

After an underwhelming first season at the club, where the Robins were involved in a dogfight to stay up, Johnson slowly started to turn the fortunes around, with a midtable finish in 2017/18, followed by an 8th place last season, which was the club’s highest league standing for ten years.

Following on from that, Robins’ fans were hopeful they could push for promotion this time around, and whilst the cup competitions have not gone as expected, their current league positioning says it’s still been a decent campaign so far.

Macgregor added: “The team was poor in both cup competitions going out in the first round of both - knocked out of the FA Cup by Shrewsbury Town on Tuesday night in a replay in Shropshire and missing out on a mouth-watering clash against Liverpool.

“However, the Robins are nicely positioned in the league, and in striking range of the top six, which is the bigger prize. So, a hit and miss season so far but with potential on the horizon.”

Speaking about the formation Johnson likes to deploy, the Sports Journalist went on to say: “Lee Johnson has mixed things up a bit at times, but has settled on a 4-4-2 of late, which enables star winger Niclas Eliasson to play, and two forwards.

“City have set up in a 5-3-2 formation at times however though. The Robins look to press high and play on the front foot. They're also not averse to being more direct and using Famara Diedhiou's physicality. They're a versatile side, which is both good (hard to predict) and bad (lacking clear identity at times).”

Having mentioned Niclas Eliasson, Macgregor highlighted him as the one-to-watch this weekend.

The Swedish international has been a standout performer for Bristol City this season with his creative ability on the ball.

The 24-year-old has ten assists to his name already and could be in with a chance of going to Euro 2020 in the summer.

“Niclas Eliasson has been outstanding. He could be in with a shout of making Sweden's Euro 2020 side if he continues to play as well as he has been.”

Despite Eliasson supplying the ammunition for the Robins throughout the campaign, fans are growing ever impatient at Ashton Gate as they wait for their chance to play in the Premier League.

“The fans are divided here currently,” said Macgregor.

“The majority see four years of progress under Lee Johnson. A growing minority are impatient and see the poor form of late as signs of continual under-achievement, with more expected from the Robins given their recent outlay in the transfer market (though that ignores the continuing key player sales, to be fair to the club).”

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