After their eighth-place finish in the 2018/19 campaign, Bristol City will be hoping to go one step further this season and achieve a play-off finish.
The 2019/20 season has been far from plain sailing for the Robins, who have had to deal with the departures of some of their key men, Adam Webster and Josh Brownhill to name two, and some really unfortunate injuries to the likes of Tomas Kalas, Benik Afobe and Jay Dasilva.
Even so, Lee Johnson’s men are well set to launch a serious play-off push. With 13 games left of the season, City are seventh in the Championship–outside the top six on goal difference and three points back from third place Fulham.
The Robins still have ties against a number of top-six sides, including Fulham, West Bromwich Albion, and Nottingham Forest, meaning in many ways a play-off finish is still in their hands.
Last season, a late slump saw them miss out on that coveted play-off spot. They will be hoping to finally secure one this time around but how has this season compared to the 2018/19 campaign and what can we learn from it?
In today’s FLW duel, we examine where City are now with where they were after at the same point last season to try and find out…
Despite the player turnover and injuries, most categories suggest that City’s performance has been very similar across the two seasons. In fact, after 33 games in the 2018/19 campaign, the Robins had won, lost and drawn the same number of games and were on 53 points.
That points total was enough to ensure sixth place at this stage last season, while at the moment, they have to settle for seventh–though only on goal difference.
Johnson’s side have been marginally better in front of goal this season, scoring five more goals (48 v 43), and should only continue to improve in the final third after the recent addition of Nahki Wells.
The key difference between the two seasons at this point has been the Robins’ defensive performances. After 33 games in the 2018/19 campaign, City had conceded 35 goals, 12 less than they have in the current campaign.
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Last season, their success was built around the strength of their defensive unit and they finished the season having conceded the fifth-fewest goals in the division.
Johnson will be hoping that with Kalas back fit and the arrival of Leicester City loanee Filip Benkovic, the Robins can regain their defensive solidity and they have certainly shown signs of doing that in recent months. They have conceded just six goals in their last six games and kept three clean sheets during that run.
There are a number of teams vying for a play-off place but if the Robins can restore some of their defensive resolve and continue to threaten in the opposition box, they should be well set to achieve that top-six finish they’ve been chasing.
City have become somewhat notorious for being streaky under Johnson and one thing that they cannot afford to do is go on the sort of winless runs that saw them slip up in the business end of last season.
After last weekend’s loss to Leeds United, the Robins face league leaders West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. A result against the Baggies would be huge but what might be more important is the way the bounce back from that game should they lose.
City simply can’t afford to let their heads drop and to suffer another extended run without a loss. That needs to be the key change for this season to be different from the last and for Johnson’s men to make the play-offs.