I will start this week’s blog by sharing news of my midweek trip to West London. I love an away game. Sadly though, as most fans in their mid-30s will understand why, they are less frequent than once before, but equally as enjoyable.
Craven Cottage has become a happy hunting ground for Bristol City in recent times and Tuesday’s victory was no different, as we won our fourth successive game there with as comprehensive a 2-0 victory as you are ever likely to see.
Despite the bizarre Halloween rituals taking place in the surrounding streets, and the lack of cider sold in the away end, my pre-match experience was pleasant enough. I went to the game with a good friend who has somewhat taken up City as a second team (his true love being Tottenham Hotspur) and was attending his fifth City match in the last couple of years.
In the past he had seen us lose twice to Reading, get a creditable draw against Hull and witnessed Lee Tomlin take one of the worst penalties ever seen in last season’s dire 0-0 draw at home to Burton.
Tuesday night, however, would prove as something of a sea-change as City displayed their now characteristic passing and pressing game, much to my friend’s enjoyment. City started with one up front – in the shape of Championship top-scorer Bobby Reid – in what seemed like a slightly defensive line-up on paper.
As it turned out, we were anything but. With Pack sitting in front of the back four, the attacking five players were given free-range to press high and win the ball back from a Fulham side who continually tried to pass out from the back, with little-to-no success.
As I’m sure you have seen on TV – or live, if you were at the match – City scored two scintillating goals, and probably should have had one or two more, but, given the fact we never really looked liked conceding in the second half, I’ll say they saw the game out well.
The Fulham victory came off the back of a gritty performance just a few days earlier at the Stadium of Light against a Sunderland side who look like they may well be heading for successive relegations, judging by current form.
So, after the two poor performances against Burton and then Leeds, City have bounced back with three impressive wins. I would suggest this has allayed the fears of those fans who thought history might be repeating itself from last season, given that the start of our demise last year was just after the October international break.
Some bad injury news hit the club this week, as Famara Diedhiou has been ruled out until the new year at the earliest. Given this blow, City will now have to rely on the precarious fitness of both Matt Taylor and Milan Djuric as other stinking options are slightly limited. It will, however, be interesting to see if Gustav Engvall will be back in the first team, given the Swedish season is due to end next week.
The club have said that Nathan Baker and Eros Pisano are doubts for this weekend’s clash with Cardiff City. Although this is not ideal, I for one am not too bothered by this news, given Hordur Magnusson’s performance in his last two matches for the club. If selected, the Icelander will have the opportunity to stake a claim for first team action in a match of real importance.
I have a feeling Cardiff might come to Ashton Gate looking to spoil the game and try to negate City’s attacking style with a defensive and pernickety performance, of the like that only a Warnock team can display.
If this is the case, I would maybe opt for Bobby Reid to drop back to a central-midfield role and to see Taylor and Djuric paired upfront, but we’ll see.
Finally, I would like to congratulate Tammy Abraham on being selected for the England senior squad. He deserves his call up and will remain an Ashton Gate favourite for years to come for his exploits last season for the club.