Bristol City welcome the Championship’s in-form side to Ashton Gate on Saturday as league leaders AFC Bournemouth arrive for the first game since the international break.
The win against Peterborough United nearly a fortnight ago leaves the Robins well placed – sitting ninth in the table and two points back from the top six – but this weekend’s game is arguably their biggest test of 2021/22 so far.
It will take a herculean effort for Nigel Pearson’s side to claim their first home win of his tenure on Saturday as the Cherries have the third-best away record in the division and have won five of their last six games on the bounce in the Championship.
Pearson looks set to be back in the dugout for the Bournemouth game but there are a few questions facing him ahead of the weekend.
With that in mind, we’ve outlined 2 things the City boss needs to weigh up ahead of the clash with Scott Parker’s side…
Whether to switch back to a back five
The Robins have for the most part set up in a 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-2 this term but Pearson has not been afraid to drop back into a back five.
They’ve had mixed success when doing so – winning away at QPR but losing at home to Swansea City – and given the threat posed by Bournemouth’s attacking players, it must be something he’ll be considering.
A back three of Rob Atkinson, Nathan Baker, and Tomas Kalas with Cam Pring and George Tanner at wing-back could help to neutralise the Cherries.
However, he stuck with the back four when Fulham visited Ashton Gate last month and only switched to the setup after his side’s equaliser, so it’s by no means a foregone conclusion.
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Who should start in central midfield
Pearson will hope to have Han-Noah Massengo back from injury but that will provide him with a fresh dilemma when it comes to picking his midfield.
Matty James looks certain to start as he’s been ever-present this term but after Andy King’s impressive display against Peterborough it will be hard to leave him out while Liam Williams has been excellent since returning to fitness himself.
There is also Tyreeq Bakinson and the more forward-thinking Kasey Palmer to chose from, so in many ways it’s a good dilemma for the City boss to have.