When Swansea and Bristol City met at Ashton Gate back in October, Olivier Ntcham’s late equalizer saw Russ Martin’s side finish the day 6th in the Championship table, 6 points and eight places better off than their hosts – but it’s all changed for the Swans since then.
The South Wales outfit won 3 of their 21 league games that followed their trip across the border, falling to 17th position, with questions now lingering over various aspects of the club.
Bristol City, meanwhile, have had a similar season in many respects, but the mood is more hopeful in the fanbase, who have enjoyed the rise of hot prospect Alex Scott this season.
It’s ingrained in the club’s identity that Swansea should always have a team that plays good football on the deck, but Russ Martin’s style is keep-ball to the extreme.
The Swans average 60.3% possession this season, just 0.3% short of Burnley, who top the metric – and that has much to do with the respect many opponents have shown the Clarets this season.
And yet, for how much the South Wales club have seen of the ball, they’ve missed a substance, with key forwards like Joel Piroe off-form for numerous months and no signings in January to freshen things up.
At the other end, Swansea have been poor defensively and conceded far too many soft goals – 57 in total in the league, which is more than the bottom three incumbents Blackpool and Huddersfield.
Bristol City safe
Bristol City were 18th at the turn of the year, only three points above the drop zone, but a run of 1 defeat in 11 matches dragged them into the safety of midtable, before a 1-0 loss at Luton last time out.
Nigel Pearson’s side have at times been reliant on Alex Scott for individual magic. However, Andreas Weimann threatens to recover his excellent 2021-22 form after scoring in the 2-0 victory over Blackpool, and Anis Mehmeti has shown flashes of brilliance since joining for a seven-figure fee from Wycombe in January.
With safety assured and play-off chances long gone, City are blooding the youngsters with a view to next season: Nikita Haikin, Marlee Francois, Sam Bell and Omar Taylor-Clarke all made the bench in midweek, with the latter two coming off it.
The tactics board
Swansea will enjoy the lion’s share of possession and, for Bristol City, the task is to press at the right times and in the right areas.
For instance, Harry Darling can be stopped by allowing him space, initially, to drive forward with the ball as he likes to, but then triggering the press once he’s started moving so he has less control of the ball, and if City can turn the ball over, then can very quickly find themselves in a five-on-three or four situation.
Plus, with the work rate of Weimann, Mehmeti, Harry Cornick and Nahki Wells, they could make themselves a very difficult team for their hosts to play through.
Swansea vs Bristol City betting tips
With the above in mind and Swansea’s poor form, Bristol City look hugely underrated for this clash.
Nigel Pearson’s troops are as big as 8/11 with Betfair to avoid defeat over the border, while Andreas Weimann is a generous 7/2 to score anytime: the forward was the Championship’s joint-third top goalscorer as recently as last season, and while it’s been a comparatively quiet campaign for the Austrian so far, after his goal against Blackpool, he’ll be keen to get back in the groove.
Double Chance: Draw/Bristol City – 8/11 Betfair
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All odds are correct at the time of writing.