Bristol City should be returning to Championship action with a bang on Saturday with the arrival of Scott Parker’s Bournemouth who have set the standards so far in the division, lying top of the pile and unbeaten while playing some pretty smart football in the process.
It’ll be another strong challenge for the Robins to overcome as Nigel Pearson looks to maintain the progression from the first 11 matches of the season, of course with the added incentive of ending that wretched home record.
In the build-up to the fixture, City released their latest ‘Robins Uncut’ feature offering a glimpse into what’s going on at the Robins High Performance Centre as the players are put through their paces by assistant manager Curtis Fleming and first-team coaches Paul Simpson and Keith Downing.
With Pearson back in work this week – although not filmed – here are a few observations that stood out for us …
<h4>O’Dowda on the right</h4> <p>After a frustrating start to the campaign, in which he was injured inside the opening 10 minutes of the first game of the season against Blackpool, Callum O’Dowda has worked his way back to fitness.</p> <p>While he continues to be a target for collective ire from the fanbase, for a multitude of reasons but essentially because after that eternal contract saga, and given the fact he’ll be 27 by the end of the season, we should now be seeing some consistency in performance from the Republic of Ireland international. He is now a senior member of his squad, no longer a bright up-and-comer.</p> <p> Given Pearson’s desire for width in midfield and his wish for the Robins to eventually line-up in a 4-3-3, as one of the few genuine orthodox wingers at the club, <a href="https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/sport/football/bristol-city-pearson-odowda-learned-5890677" target="_self" rel="noopener">O’Dowda should be an important player</a>, both in the attributes he offers but also in how his presence helps dictate how City can play. </p> <a href="https://s2-prod.bristolpost.co.uk/@trinitymirrordigital/marwood/TM/amp/js/amp.min.js?v=539f80ac9d21bb355b6120f432a89262">https://s2-prod.bristolpost.co.uk/@trinitymirrordigital/marwood/TM/amp/js/amp.min.js?v=539f80ac9d21bb355b6120f432a89262</a><p>Over the course of the nine-minute video, O’Dowda is featured heavily but what’s interesting is that across the four main clips of action involving him, he’s stationed on the right-side as opposed to his more customary left-sided position.</p> <p>One penetrative run down the channel and a quick stepover to open up a crossing opportunity ends with Sam Bell tapping in, and there are three other instances where he either gets to the byline and delivers or decides to switch inside onto his left at shoot.</p> <p>It’s a small sample size from one solitary day of training but could point to a possible tactical tweak ahead of the weekend with O’Dowda then lining up against one of Bournemouth’s in-form individuals in Jordan Zemura at left-back.</p> <a href="https://s2-prod.bristolpost.co.uk/@trinitymirrordigital/marwood/TM/amp/js/amp.min.js?v=539f80ac9d21bb355b6120f432a89262">https://s2-prod.bristolpost.co.uk/@trinitymirrordigital/marwood/TM/amp/js/amp.min.js?v=539f80ac9d21bb355b6120f432a89262</a><h4>No Massengo</h4> <p>Notable by his absence in Robins Uncut is Han-Noah Massengo and we should receive a more detailed (and credible) prognosis from Nigel Pearson on Thursday but it appears the French midfielder is not quite ready for a first-team return.</p> <p> Massengo has missed City’s last three games with a hamstring issue and the <a href="https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/sport/football/bristol-city-injury-news-massengo-5978969" target="_self" rel="noopener">initial expectation was for a two-week absence</a> which would have taken him up to last weekend and meant he could train this week. </p> <p>We’re joining the dots a little here and you also have to consider that the club could be being a little clever with revealing whether or not he’s back in action to keep Bournemouth guessing ahead of the weekend.</p> <p>Massengo is becoming an increasingly important and influential figure and his energy and bite in midfield will be vital in stopping the Cherries’ production from that area of the pitch.</p> <p>The good news for City is such is their depth in that area – with Matty James, Andy King, Tyreeq Bakinson and Joe Williams all training this week – the 20-year-old’s absence can be covered.</p> <p>It's also worth noting that the footage broadcast also doesn't include Jay Dasilva, Nathan Baker or Nahki Wells - all having missed the 3-2 win over Peterborough before the break.</p> <h5>Read More</h5> <h5>Related Articles</h5> <h5>Read More</h5> <h5>Related Articles</h5> <h4>Williams vs Murray</h4> <p>Pride of place at the start of Robins Uncut is Joe Williams’ practical joke on Scott Murray as the midfielder hides behind an electrical box to then leap out and add a few extra grey hairs to the kitman’s head.</p> <p>It’s amusing to watch and continues a theme of this season of the two playing off against each other, which seems to have stemmed from the intensity of the table-tennis table.</p> <p> However, it also speaks to a wider point and that is <a href="https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/joe-williams-finally-showing-important-6015159" target="_self" rel="noopener">Williams’ status in the squad</a> and adding an explosive character, beyond just his performances on the field. </p> <a href="https://s2-prod.bristolpost.co.uk/@trinitymirrordigital/marwood/TM/amp/js/amp.min.js?v=539f80ac9d21bb355b6120f432a89262">https://s2-prod.bristolpost.co.uk/@trinitymirrordigital/marwood/TM/amp/js/amp.min.js?v=539f80ac9d21bb355b6120f432a89262</a><p>The Scouser, as we well know, has taken a long time to showcase what he can do on the field but he’s been a deeply popular and significant figure in the dressing room for a long time.</p> <p>Even his time away on rehab with the likes of Andi Weimann and Chris Martin helped raise spirits during those long and often painful sessions. He’s exactly the sort of individual you need to keep morale up.</p> <p>Pearson likes players to be team-focused and bear collective responsibility and also have a bit about them; he doesn’t want robots. With the way he plays the game with such intensity and commitment, and his persona off the field, Williams certainly ticks all those boxes.</p> <img data-src="https://i2-prod.bristolpost.co.uk/sport/football/article5757257.ece/ALTERNATES/s615/0_JMP_Bristol_City_v_Blackpool_RT0760jpgg.jpg" alt="" src="https://i2-prod.bristolpost.co.uk/sport/football/article5757257.ece/ALTERNATES/s615/0_JMP_Bristol_City_v_Blackpool_RT0760jpgg.jpg" /> <p>All the latest news, views, interviews, gossip and analysis concerning Bristol City, delivered straight to your inbox, every day at 12:00.</p> <p>It's completely free and you <a href="https://communicatoremail.com/F/gqxNwa0hZubC9_IKKGjv78/">can sign up HERE</a></p> <h4>Bell and Janneh involved</h4> <p>For a number of reasons, this season hasn’t witnessed the same flow of players from Under-23 level to the first team with Pearson establishing clear lines between the first-team and those in the youth set-up.</p> <p> As he said on September 13 <a href="https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/sport/football/nigel-pearson-bristol-louis-britton-5911617" target="_self" rel="noopener">in reference to Louis Britton</a> and his place in the squad, “When you see last year's programme and you've got too many names, I just go, 'not one of our first-team, not one of ours'. It's as simple as that.” </p> <p>Evidence of this was presented with the City team photo this week as, of the Under-23 group who have broken into the first team this year, the only individuals included were Alex Scott (unsurprisingly), Tommy Conway (currently injured), Sam Bell and Saikou Janneh.</p> <h5>Read More</h5> <h5>Related Articles</h5> <p>No Harvey Wiles-Richards, who has been part of the travelling squad this season and always warms up with Dan Bentley and Max O’Leary on matchdays, Britton, Sam Pearson or James Morton, while Ryley Towler and Owura Edwards are out on loan at Grimsby and Exeter, respectively.</p> <p>We can therefore assume Bell and Janneh are considered part of the first-team, which is interesting given the relatively limited resources City have in the final third, should one of Chris Martin, Weimann, Antoine Semenyo or Wells (who did so against Peterborough) get injured.</p> <p>Indeed, Bell is featured popping up on the end of a couple of moves as a proper penalty box striker and while we shouldn’t get too expectant, as the temperature drops and the games intensify in their frequency towards and into Christmas, the 19-year-old - who made the bench at London Road - could well find himself involved.</p> <p><b> </b><b> <a href="https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/newsletter-preference-centre/" target="_self" rel="noopener"> <b> <i>You can sign up to our dedicated Bristol City newsletter HERE, bringing you the latest from Ashton Gate</i> </b> </a> </b> </p><!-- Article End-->