After suffering his first defeat as Swansea City boss Steve Cooper will be eager to see his side bounce back against Bristol City at Ashton Gate. It certainly won’t be easy though as the Robins are formidable at home and the form team in the division. Can Cooper’s side bounce back at Brizzle? ATFV mulls the prospect over in this Bristol City v Swans Match Preview, sponsored by Drop Bear Beer.
So Steve Cooper is beatable after all. Last week’s flop against Forest at the Liberty saw the Swans manager lose for the first time, but there’ll be no root and branch review into the defeat (see what I did there?) and Cooper will calmly look to put things right against Bristol City.
Cooper will have an almost entirely fit squad to choose from with only Aldo Kalulu still on the injured list. Laden with options though he may be though, Cooper likes consistency in his team selections and so its unlikely there will be wholesale changes.
Joe Rodon and Mike van der Hoorn will take their places in front of undisputed No.1 Freddie Woodman in goal. The fullbacks will probably be Connor Roberts and Jake Bidwell but both had poor games last time out and Kyle Naughton must be coming into his manager’s thinking on either side.
Automatic picks Matt Grimes and Jay Fulton will again screen the back four but it’s who plays in front of them that is the really interesting question. With Jan Dhanda unavailable last week Bersant Celina reverted to the No.10 role but the Swans didn’t really start to play until George Byers replaced him. All three will be in the mix to start in the attacking midfield role but I have a sneaky suspicion that Byers will get the nod with Celina reverting back to the left wing.
Ayew of the Andre variety will take the roving right wing role again but with Wayne Routledge and Nathan Dyer both now fit and itching to start, the Ghanaian needs to start dominating games with his class and ability again.
Up top Borja will be hoping to get back on the scoresheet after two games with out a goal has left him stalled on five for the season. Confidence is almost everything in football and a third game without a goal could damage the fragile confidence that Borja has been building up since his rehabilitation into the side. With Sam Surridge an eager substitute, the Spaniard will be under a little pressure this afternoon.
Cooper certainly has options but the one thing he lacks is the one thing that could hurt the opposition most: pace.
The Robins’ defence has been solid all season but has struggled with pace, but there is precious little of it in the Swans squad in general or my predicted side above in particular.Jordan Garrick played most of the Under 23s match against PSV Eindhoven on Thursday night so I’ll be very surprised if he’s involved. That leaves Nathan Dyer is the sole flyer that could do some damage and he was first choice at the start of the season before injury struck and Andre Ayew was reintegrated.
Dyer would make sense but Cooper will likely keep him in reserve and use him as an impact sub, just as he did last week against Forest.
Keep it tight, stay in the game and look to expose the Robins’ lack of pace at the back as the game wears on.
The Anticipated ATFV Line-Up: Woodman; Roberts; van der Hoorn; Rodon; Bidwell; Grimes; Fulton; Byers; Celina; Ayew; Borja
Lee Johnson’s Robins are flying at the moment, unbeaten in six and fourth in the division, just two points and places behind the Swans. However, injuries threaten to bring the Robins back down to Earth.
Influential striker Benik Afobe had scored three goals in five games after his loan signing from Stoke but he’s now set to miss the rest of the season after suffering an anterior cruciate knee ligament injury in training. The big man will be a big miss for Bristol.
Another significant performer Adam Nagy, a summer signing from Bologna, has also been ruled out over the last month and today’s contest is probably too early for his return, while marquee signing Tomas Kalas is still few weeks away from fitness. Jay Dasilva, Korey Smith and Josh Brownhill are further long term casualties for bristol City to contend with. It’s all good news for the Swans!
One man that will be lining up for the Robins today is former Swans talisman Ashley Williams; the veteran centre half signed on a short term deal to help plug the gaps left by the debilitating injury list and whilst he’ll bring experience and composure to the Robins’ back three he’ll hardly help with their inability to deal with pace.
Full back Jack Hunt is one to watch with a brace of assists on his last two games, whilst the movement of Andreas Weimann up front will test the concentration of the back four.
It will be fascinating to see how Steve Cooper’s side bounces back after the first defeat of the season. It was a subdued Swans last week, sluggish after the international break, and if that same side turns up at Ashton Gate today then they’ll be sent packing with their tails between their legs. Bristol City don’t create many chances that the ones they do they take with clinical regularity; the Robins are regimented at the back and effervescent in midfield but Benik Afobe’s absence could serve to blunt them entirely up front. This will be a more even contest than the Leeds game but that result away from home should give the Swans the confidence to believe they can get a result anywhere away from home in this division. I’m going for a 1-1 draw with Bristol scoring first but pegged back in the second half as Cooper introduces the pace of Dyer. And if that scenario pans out then I’m dashing to my nearest CKs store to lump on the lottery!
Your Bristol City v Swans Match Preview is brought to you by ATFV in association with Drop Bear Beer