Tag Archives: Bristol City

Analysis of the Championship Run-in

Championship fans up and down the country were today (June 8) given a huge boost of excitement with the EFL announcing the restart schedule released – along with confirmed TV selections.

The journey will continue for Sky Bet Championship clubs with the action kicking off again on Saturday 20 June. They couldn’t have gone for a juicier opening fixture with promotion contenders Fulham & Brentford clashing in front of the Sky cameras for a West London derby.

So with just nine games remaining, who is in the running for promotion and relegation? Let’s break it down and give a final prediction of what could go down starting with the relegation candidates.

We all know what gruelling and outright horrible season the Championship can be for clubs. It is 46 games of tough, physical games of football and we would usually be talking of these remaining nine games as the last hurdle, but truthfully, with the break, everyone has now had, anything could happen. Even more, than it usually does. Seriously, the Championship has become even more unpredictable – let the party begin.

Last term, 44 points renewed Millwall’s Championship status and the year before that, 43 points kept Bolton up. Yet with 27 points still up for grabs, Hull City sit one place out the drop zone on 41 points which makes you realise we could be in for a much higher points total to guarantee safety.

So who are all the teams in the relegation run-in? I suppose this is almost impossible to pinpoint with the dramatic changes this league can produce but all the way up to seventeenth spot we have Stoke City who are just three points adrift. Below them are Huddersfield, Middlesbrough Wigan and Hull. The drop zone meanwhile contains Charlton, Luton, and Barnsley.

Given the number of ridiculous results that the Championship can produce I almost feel it a pointless exercise to start analysing the run-ins that the teams have but some crucial relegation clashes are coming up – one of them being Hull vs Middlesbrough.

The Yorkshire derby (I’m sorry) has been selected for Sky coverage on Thursday 2 July and could play a pivotal part. The Tigers made a terrible gamble in January by selling their dynamic duo of Jared Bowen and Kamil Grosicki to West Ham and West Brom respectively and it’s fair to say it couldn’t have gone worse for them.

At one stage it looked like Hull might be in for a fairly stable season but since Christmas, they have picked up just eleven points from a possible forty-two, including heavy defeats in the last two outings to Leeds and Stoke.

Elsewhere, the pandemic couldn’t have come at a worse time for Wigan Athletic who were in the form of their lives and picked up huge wins over the current top two, Leeds and West Brom. It’s a huge fight meanwhile for Barnsley, who, despite some half-decent form themselves, are still bottom of the pile and seven points adrift. Gerhard Struber has not done a bad job with the Yorkshire club but the sheer awfulness of their start to the season before he took charge in November means that it still hasn’t been enough.

Charlton Athletic have been hit with a huge blow, which has been a big talking point ahead of the restart with several players including top scorer Lyle Taylor, refusing to continue. Taylor (30) is out of contract and states his physical health as reasons for not agreeing to a temporary extension as he doesn’t want an injury to prevent him from a move next season.

Even with Taylor’s goals, Charlton are two points deep in the relegation zone and without them, you do wonder where the results are going to come from. Below the Addicks, we have Luton Town who for most of the season have just looked a little bit out of their depth. It would be a shame for Luton to go down as their epic rise, fall and rise again has been a great story. Do they, however, have enough to stay up?

Huddersfield and Stoke may be living life dangerously sitting just three points clear, but the misfortunes of Charlton and Hull I think will keep them safe enough and out of the equation. Huddersfield will, however, have crucial games against Wigan and Luton, meanwhile Stoke will have to fight off tough opposition with three of the top six still to play.

Final Prediction
21: Charlton Athletic (Survived)
22: Hull City (Relegated)
23: Barnsley (Relegated)
24: Luton Town (Relegated)

So on we go to the epic prize that is the Premier League. Once again this is going to be a tough one to predict and it really wouldn’t shock me if a team I mention in this somehow ends up in a relegation scrap. This division is mental, it really is.

With just six points separating sixth and thirteenth – don’t shoot me if I end up getting this horrifically wrong.

I reiterate that form could completely go out the window with the big break that we have had and the run-ins could make no difference whatsoever but nonetheless, we’ll start with the current top two.

Leeds and West Brom have looked the best bets for promotion for a lot of this season and six points currently separates West Brom from Fulham in third with Leeds one point ahead of Albion in first. Both have had their bad spells this season and at one point it seriously looked like both Fulham and Brentford could take up the top two spots.

Before the pandemic, however, Leeds were in tantalising form winning their last five games and conceding no goals in the process. For West Brom, it was a little more up and down drawing away to Swansea and losing at home to Wigan but the Baggies did register big wins over Preston and Bristol City before that.

With Brentford ten points behind West Brom, we have to suggest at this stage that Fulham are the main contenders to challenge the top two.

However, a reminder that Fulham do host Brentford in the first game back and an away win for the Bees could give them a very good argument that they are still in the mix. Thomas Frank’s side will then have to face West Brom immediately afterwards at home so those two games perhaps could give us a good idea?

In that same game week, Leeds will host Fulham in what could also prove to be huge. My word I have missed this barnstormer of a league!

We must also not forget Nottingham Forest who sit level with Brentford in fifth, however, since their big home win over Leeds back in February, the form for Sabri Lamouchi’s men has been very up and down. They were shocked at home to Charlton and since been well beaten in their last game at the hands of Millwall. Forest have been crying out for Premier League football even longer than Leeds but still strike me as a team that is developing under Lamouchi.

There is no doubt that Lamouchi has transformed Forest into a much better side than we have seen over the years and for that reason, in my opinion, it puts him in the running for manager of the year. Should they, however, fall short this season they’d have to be big favourites next year.

Four points behind Forest in sixth we have Preston where thankfully we can now just be talking about who is going to take that spot come July. Not that I should completely disregard Preston ploughing through everyone in nine games and go up as champions but let’s just pretend that isn’t possible. Alex Neil is another manager who has done a tremendous job this season, turning Preston from a mid-table team to a side that is mounting a promotion challenge.

They do, however, face stiff competition from Bristol City, who are just a point behind The Lilywhites, while Millwall and Cardiff are just two points adrift. Oh, but then we have Blackburn, Swansea and Derby who are also very much in contention…I give in, please no one shoot me for this prediction.

To make matters more difficult these are all teams who’s form has been very inconsistent, I mean that’s probably why they are where they are. I do make a strong case for Gary Rowett’s Millwall though, who, since Rowett’s appointment I’ve identified as dark horses for promotion.

Rowett has had a lot of talk about him since his shock departure from Birmingham as to how good a coach he is and it did not go well for him at Stoke. At the time it looked a risky decision to take the managerial role at The Den, given that the previous season Millwall had very narrowly escaped relegation and were sat in seventeenth spot at the time of his appointment.

The Lions though have lost just five league games in his 23 game tenure and with just two points separating them and Preston they do look a good bet. Bristol City meanwhile were in very bad form before lockdown and despite that potentially making no difference anymore, they aren’t a team that has struck me as one that would maintain a spot in the playoffs. I would also say similarly with Guy Mowbray’s Blackburn Rovers, who have been in and around the mix for a while now and for a long time topped the form table, but ultimately I see them coming short.

Swansea and Derby are interesting ones because the Swans were at the top end of the table for a while before Christmas but a bad run of form led to their slip down the table. They are a young footballing side that given time under Steve Cooper, they could be well in the mix next season.

Derby, on the other hand, have had a very eventful season.  The signing of Wayne Rooney in January to the sacking of captain Richard Keogh. Focusing on the football, they’re a team that has tried to play out from the back under Phillip Cocu but just haven’t done it that well. Their fortunes have however recently changed and the results have started to come, which has led to them being back in the mix but I think it will be too little too late for them.

Final Prediction
1: Leeds (Promoted)
2: West Brom (Promoted)
3: Fulham
4: Brentford (Promoted via Playoffs)
5: Nottingham Forest
6: Millwall

Bristol City: dark horses for promotion?

Bristol City have never played Premier League football , could this be their season to achieve promotion to the top-flight?

The Robins have retained their mid table status for the last few seasons and have had glimpses of tremendous form. Current manager, Lee Johnson, has been in charge since February 2016. Bristol City had a considerable run in the League Cup in 2017/2018. Will we see the Robins make it to the Premier League this season?

The 2017/2018 season was a modest season for Bristol City, knocking out Manchester United in the EFL cup was one of the highlights of their season. Finishing 11th place was acceptable on paper for Bristol City, nonetheless it could be deemed disappointing by many considering the Robins sat 2nd on Boxing Day.

The 2018/2019 season has been an excellent season for Bristol city. In pre-season, Bristol saw significant players such as Aiden Flint, Bobby Reid and Joe Bryan depart the club. Despite accumulating over £20 million in the summer, Bristol City only spent £2.5 million on signings. Bristol City had a satisfactory start to the season winning 4 of their first 7 games. Likewise, The Robins went on a 13 match unbeaten run from November to February. Despite experiencing immense patches of form in the last few seasons we haven’t seen Bristol feature in the Championship play-offs. The last time City participated In the Championship play-offs was when they reached the final in 2008.

Bristol City have had a total of 12 clean sheets this season which ranks them 7th in terms of the Championship’s best defences. City have the 4th lowest average of goals conceded in the league, with Lee Johnson’s side only shipping an average of 1.1 goals a game. However, the Robins have only scored 1.3 goals per game, making them the only the 13th best attacking force in the division. One dispute in the Bristol city team is that they don’t have a prolific striker, with their leading goalscorer being Famara Diedhiou who has bagged 11 goals this term.

Its unlikely that Bristol City will gain automatic promotion in the coming seasons as they don’t have the financial strength to compete with arguably larger teams such as Leeds , Middlesbrough and Derby. Although it seems Bristol City have progressed and have been going in the right direction since appointing Lee Johnson in 2016.

Nevertheless, the play offs could be a route Bristol could take to gain promotion. We’ve seen teams like Huddersfield Town gain promotion through the play offs despite not being as wealthy as other Championship clubs. On their day, Bristol City, like every side, can beat anybody. The play-offs are often a lottery and teams can win it should luck be on their side.

Will we see Bristol City promoted this season?

Is this former Brazilian international set to sign for Bolton?

There are widespread reports that former Brazilian international Julio Baptista is set to sign for Championship strugglers Bolton Wanderers.

Bolton who have yet to win a match in the Championship, bolstered their striking options over the summer bringing in Adam Le Fondre and Aaron Wilbraham from Cardiff City and Bristol City respectively, as well as completing the loan signing of Adam Armstrong from Newcastle United.

Whilst they are 3 known names in English football and have all scored goals at Championship level in the past, they have struggled so far this season and it looks like manager Phil Parkinson is looking to bring in more experience to try and help his Wanderers side climb off the foot of the table and give them every chance of staying in the division.

Julio Baptista – The Brazilian who plied his trade in the MLS with Orlando City last season, was released when his contract option was refused by the club in November 2016 and he became a free agent.

Baptista has played previously in England, joining Arsenal on loan from Real Madrid in 2006.

He can play in a number of positions including just behind the striker or he can operate from the left wing, which gives Phil Parkinson options in his squad. Having made over 350 appearances for major clubs around the world, he could be a useful addition to the Bolton ranks and help them secure Championship football for another season.

Bolton Wanderers fans would you like to see Julio Baptista sign for your club? Would he provide useful experience to your side? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section…

 

2017/2018 Best Championship XI?

With the summer transfer window officially closed, we now know all the official squads in the Championship, before the clubs go through it all again in January. With that in mind we take a look at what we think is the best Championship XI on current form.

John Ruddy – Goalkeeper

The Wolves shot stopper made the switch to Molineux this summer after being released by Norwich City at the end of last season. Having kept 3 clean sheets in the opening 5 games of the Championship season, it is clear to see that Wolves have a safe pair of hands to call upon.

Sol Bamba – Centre Half

Having recently signed a new contract with the ‘Bluebirds’, Bamba and Cardiff have a terrific start to the season. Keeping 3 clean sheets and having chipped in with a goal Bamba has to take his place in this team.

Pontus Jansson – Centre Half

The Leeds man was pivotal to the club finishing just outside the play-offs last season, and has helped the club to the second best defensive record in the Championship so far this campaign. The Swedish centre half is proving to become a fans favourite at Elland Road and has been capped for his national team.

Paul Huntington – Centre Half 

The ever present centre half for Preston North End has helped the club to the best defensive record in the league so far this season and also to 7th place in the league table. At the age of 29 Huntington brings much needed experience to the back line and if Preston continue in this fine form of not conceding goals, they could sneak a play-off!

Ruben Neves – Defensive Midfielder

Perhaps the most bizarre transfer of the summer, as Neves completed his move to Wolves for a fee in the region of £15m. The 20 year has made decent start to life in England as he has scored his first goal for Wolves and helped the club to 4th place in the Championship table.

Bobby Reid – Central Midfielder

The Bristol City central midfielder is joint top scorer in the Championship with 4 goals and has 1 assist to his name which gets him a place in the side. Despite ‘The Robins’ drawing 3 successive games and falling to 14th in the league table, I fully expect them to have a good season and be in the promotion picture come May.

Jota – Right Wing

Making the move to St Andrews on deadline day could prove to be an astute piece of business for Harry Redknapp. Jota became the clubs record signing as he completed his move to the Midlands for fee in excess of £6m, and if he can capture the form he found last season at Brentford where he scored 12 goals and provided 5 assists for his team mates he will prove to a top quality signing for Birmingham.

Nathaniel Mendez-Laing – Left Wing

The Cardiff winger has certainly found his feet in the Championship as he has opened the season by scoring 4 goals. Making the switch from Rochdale in the summer, the versatile player who can play on either flank, has been in impressive form and has helped the ‘Bluebirds’ to top the Championship table.

Britt Assombalonga – Centre Forward

Guaranteed goals by this man! A Proven striker at Championship level, Assombalonga made the switch to the Riverside Stadium in the summer for £14m, showing that Boro certainly see him as a key figure in the push for an immediate Premier League return. Having started the season scoring. 2 goals in 5 games the Congolese international will be hoping to start firing on all cylinders after the international break.

Billy Sharp – Centre Forward (C)

The experienced striker has scored goals at every level and has proved his worth so far for Sheffield United in the Championship as he has found the net on 4 occasions so far. With the ‘Blades’ sitting in a play-off spot currently, they could certainly be dark horses this season, with Sharp guaranteed to score more goals.

Martyn Waghorn – Centre Forward

What a signing he has proved to be so far this season for Ipswich Town finding the net on 4 occasions also, and also having the best goal to minutes ratio in the Championship as he averages a goal every 62 minutes!

Manager – Neil Warnock

Having turned Cardiff around from a team that was struggling last season to table toppers there was no other manager I could have chose!

Do you agree this is the best Championship XI right now? Let us know in the comments section below…