Michelle Owen - 'As good a time as any for Johnson to break his duck against Bielsa's Leeds United'
After being outplayed at Ashton Gate seven months ago, Bristol City have a point to prove and a run to end at Elland Roadby Michelle Owen
This weekend's game against Leeds United could prove pivotal for Bristol City: win and they go level on points, lose and they face another massive test against West Brom and need to prevent losing ground in such a tight race for promotion.
I would go as far as saying if Bristol City win their next two games, I really fancy them for automatic promotion; if it goes the other way, I fear the play-offs may become a difficult target.
In the reverse fixture on the opening weekend of the season, Leeds were a class above, passing crisply and clinically finishing.
This time around, Leeds’ form has dropped off dramatically since mid December. At that point they were 10 points clear in second, now they sit in the last automatic place on just goal difference.
Leeds have failed to keep a clean sheet in 11 matches, surely this is a good time to be facing them. Moreover this is a very different looking City team.
Lee Johnson - whose record against Marcelo Bielsa reads P3 W0 D0 L3 F1 A6 - has a chance to add further credentials to his coaching CV if he could get a win at Elland Road. It is such a difficult place to go, City have not won there since 1979 and it’s one of the loudest stadiums I’ve ever been to.
The atmosphere is intimidating and electric, but as professional footballers Johnson will be telling his players to embrace this rather than fear it.
Tactically he will want to out smart Marcelo Bielsa, however Leeds do limit teams chances from open play. Indeed after their 1-1 draw with Brentford on Tuesday, Bees boss Thomas Frank commented on how Leeds concede most of their goals from set pieces.
You would expect the Robins will have to soak up a lot of pressure at Elland Road and look to hit them on the counter attack or via set pieces.
One of Johnson’s strengths is his ability to adapt his team’s formation. He could opt for 3-5-2 which allows for both Nahki Wells and Famara Diedhiou to continue, or 4-1-4-1 in which one would have to be dropped.
The coaching staff will be disappointed how, after being 3-0 up, the finish to the Derby game was so nervy. At 82 minutes arguably they over committed going forward and Chris Martin was given almost a tap in to make it 3-2.
They did hold on and could have killed the game off with two late chances, it is a monkey off the back for now to win at home and confidence they will bring into Saturday.
On Wednesday, some may have thought Diedhou would have made way for Wells and Andreas Weimann would partner him leading the line; after all Weimann established a great early partnership with Benik Afobe before the latter's ACL injury.
The coaching staff made a great call in keeping Diedhiou in the team and got their rewards with both strikers scoring, giving an early indication we could be witnessing the birth of a brand new potent partnership.
With that said, in just a few weeks another partnership could be waiting in the wings, with Afobe close to fitness he will be chomping at the bit to get back on the pitch and it was proved his best partner has been Weimann.
Providing all of these players stay fit it is a fantastic selection headache to have, and a much wanted one as we head towards the final stages of the season.
If one set of strikers stop firing or combining a ready made pair could come in. I would imagine training will be very intense with more competition for places than ever.