The Championship Corner: Why Bristol City are this season’s surprise package

Connect in the back of the net

In a league that is always full of surprises, fans of the Championship have again found themselves watching a league in which anyone can challenge near the top of the table.

A couple of quality new signings and a good run of form can be the difference between a top-quality season and a battle near the relegation zone. Even newly promoted sides can often find themselves near the top such as Sheffield United who after a blistering season in League One last year now sit third in the table after twelve games.

Equally at the foot of the table, recently relegated Sunderland find themselves second bottom. Another of the league’s surprise packages this season though is Bristol City who hardly anyone tipped for a good season in August.


Struggled last season, thriving this season

Bristol City were a side who struggled through much of last season’s Championship campaign only surviving relegation to League One by three points having had a strong April.

The disastrous nature of much of Bristol City’s season was optimised by the fact that the team lost a club-record eight consecutive league games during their campaign. Manager Lee Johnson even received a death threat over the signing of Matty Taylor from bitter rivals Bristol Rovers and was also forced to move to a new house after his address was posted online.

Since then though things have really started to look up for the 36-year-old and his team; Johnson even won the manager of the month award for September after the Robins only dropped four points from a possible eighteen and finished the month unbeaten.

This means that even after a disappointing nil-nil home draw with an out of form Burton side on Friday, City still sit fourth in the table only five points behind top of the table Wolves and just three points off Cardiff in the automatic promotion places.


Surprising performances, particularly from Bobby Reid

What makes Bristol City’s strong start particularly surprising is that they are picking up results even without Tammy Abraham who scored over a third of the team’s league goals last season.

Abraham who was only on loan at City last season from Chelsea is now plying his trade on loan at Swansea in the Premier League and when he left many City fans will have likely feared the worst.

The signing of Famara Diedhiou has certainly helped to fill the void but perhaps surprisingly the real standout goal scorer for Bristol City this season has been a player who was already at the club; that player is Bobby Reid.

Bobby Reid has been in electric form so far this season scoring seven goals in eleven appearances and also assisting one with an average of a goal every 150 minutes. All of this is from an attacking midfield position rather than from striker.

Ominously for opposing defences Reid and Diedhiou seem to have formed a lethal partnership at this early stage of the season and fans of the Robins will be hoping that they continue to score goals as to fire them to a strong league position.

Reid’s early form is particularly unexpected when you consider the fact that he only managed three league goals in thirty last season. Bristol as a side have been equally prolific so far having already scored 20 goals making them joint second top scorers in the league.

As a side they are easily on track to beat their total of 60 from last season.


Defensively solid, as well

Defensively this season, Bristol have been equally effective in comparison to their rivals and are amongst the best six teams defensively thus far.

This was something that proved a major issue last season as in terms of goals for, they were quite strong but still finished the season with a goal difference of minus six.

The addition of Nathan Baker has certainly been a good one as him and Aden Flint have already formed a very sound centre back partnership that at this stage seems to have stopped City leaking goals.


Fans upbeat

Although it is still early doors in terms of this Championship season there are many Bristol City fans who will already be licking their lips at the prospect of Premier League football next season.

Equally there will be many still comparing Bristol’s points total with those teams at the foot of the table.

Despite this, a strong Bristol City campaign is very much on the cards and fans will be hoping that their side can recreate the surprise Huddersfield sprung last season and earn themselves a go at top flight football come August.


Written by James Bairstow

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