Talking Tactics | Bristol City v Swansea City
Tuesday night was one that didn't go quite according to plan for the Swans. Despite dominating the ball against Stoke, Russell Martin's team suffered a 3-1 loss on home turf to extend Swansea's winless start to 2021-22.
Attention now turns to Friday's trip to Bristol City, where the Swans will seek to prolong the Robins' home woes as WhoScored.com preview the clash at Ashton Gate.
What to expect from Bristol City
-Things have not been easy for Nigel Pearson since took over the Bristol City reins. He managed to keep the Robins in the Championship, but a record of 16 p+-oints from his 18 games in charge would not have been the return he would have been looking for.
He is yet to win a league game at Ashton Gate, but the new season offers a fresh start and a clean slate and Pearson and his men will hope the return of supporters can give them a lift and allow them to build on the lessons learned last term.
In four games this season - three Championship and one Carabao Cup - Pearson has stuck with a 4-2-3-1 setup as City have taken four points from three league matches and suffered an early exit from the domestic competition. He will be looking for his side to strike up some consistency in results and performances.
Experienced duo Andy King and Matty James shield the defence and as two players who have played under Pearson in the past, he can rest assured that the pair will work hard to protect the backline. City have conceded in every competitive game this season - but each of King and James has garnered a WhoScored.com rating of 6.71 from their three league appearances together and it's only a matter of time before the Robins begin to put more points on the board.
Their discipline in the middle of the park allows those out wide to get forward and support the offensive, notably down the left, with 45% of their attacks coming down this side of the pitch. It's the duo at the base of the midfield, though, that allows for the wide players to get up field and you can be sure that King and James will go to great lengths once more to help Bristol City secure all the spoils and keep a first clean sheet of the campaign.
A familiar face to Bristol City fans makes a quick return to Ashton Gate in Friday's clash. Jamie Paterson departed the Robins for Swansea over the summer and made an immediate impact, netting on his debut in their eventual 2-1 loss to Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park. The 29-year-old has proven to be a key creator from the middle of the park, reinforcing a statistically calculated WhoScored.com strength of 'key passes'.
Indeed, of all Swansea players to register at least an hour's worth of league action this season, Paterson's return of 1.3 key passes per 90 minutes ranks first. After dropping out of the starting XI for the 3-1 loss to Stoke on Tuesday night, Paterson is expected to return to the side for the trip east as Martin seeks to inject some creativity into the side.
He'll have his work cut out, though, if he is to get the better of James in the middle of the park. Only left-back Jay Dasilva (2.7) is making more tackles per game than James (2.3) of all Bristol City players in the Championship this season, and he will look to use his tenacity out of possession to keep Paterson quiet as the former Bristol man aims to help his new employers to victory over the Robins.
While there have been some encouraging signs for the Robins so far this term, they will be looking to end the wait for Pearson's first home league win at the helm.
A 3-2 win over Reading on Tuesday night will have gone down well with supporters and, back on home turf on Friday, fans will be hoping a first win anywhere since March can lead to an upturn in fortunes at Ashton Gate.
In the eight home league matches Pearson has masterminded, he is yet to oversee a win and Bristol City are the only team yet to secure a league victory on home turf in that period of those to have played in the Championship across both seasons.
Martin will be hoping his side can extend that unwanted record as he aims to secure his first league victory as Swansea City boss.