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3 things to watch out for in Bristol City v Sunderland on Saturday

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A big crowd is expected at Ashton Gate on Saturday as Bristol City host Sunderland in what is the Robins’ first home game of the Championship season. 

They were left extremely frustrated last weekend as a controversial penalty and a deflected injury-time goal meant Hull City came back from one-nil down to beat them 2-1 at the MKM Stadium.

Nigel Pearson and his team can still take plenty of positives from that game but there was still a feeling of ‘same old City’ as they once again failed to defend a lead late on.

Sunderland, meanwhile, earned a point against Coventry City at the Stadium of Light. Alex Neil’s side started much the brighter but failed to kick on after taking the lead and were eventually pegged back by a Viktor Gyokeres long-range strike.

Six goals were scored the last time these two teams met in Bs3 and you would not bet against another high-scoring game tomorrow.

Ahead of what promises to be an interesting encounter, here are three things to watch out for in City v Sunderland…

A debut for Ellis Simms

There is plenty of excitement surrounding Sunderland’s latest summer addition and for good reason, as Everton loanee Ellis Simms’ goal record speaks for itself.

He bagged seven goals in 21 games for Hearts in the second half of last season and 10 in 23 for Blackpool after joining them in January in 2020/21.

Simms could be in line to make his Black Cats debut at Ashton Gate on Saturday – though it looks likely to be from the bench with Ross Stewart starting up top.

Introducing the 21-year-old in the latter stages of the game could be a wise call from Alex Neil given City’s tendency to concede late goals.

How City’s defence react to Hull defeat

Lots of things went against the Robins at the MKM Stadium but it was far from an ideal start to the season for a team hoping to shore things up significantly this term.

They conceded 77 Championship goals in 2021/22 – the third most in the division – and given their impressive output at the other end of the pitch, there’s no doubt where they need to improve.

The signing of Kal Naismith should help them do that but his lunge for the penalty was a little rash, even if he didn’t make significant contact with Benjamin Tetteh, while the deflected goal was a gutting way to concede a second but fits into their pattern of conceding late.

What’s key now is going to be how City’s backline respond against a Sunderland team that offer a range of challenges – such as Stewart’s strength, Jack Clarke’s pace, and Alex Pritchard’s creativity.

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The refereeing

It’s a shame to pick out the officiating but after a summer where we didn’t have to think about EFL referees, the Robins were undone by one against Hull.

Kevin Stroud is not a particularly popular referee among EFL supporters and he’s taking charge of tomorrow’s game.

Pearson spoke out against the poor decisions after last week’s game and it’ll certainly be interesting to see how things go this week.


London-based sports journalist at Snack Media EFL accredited, graduate of New Associates and the University of Brighton

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: 3 things to watch out for in Bristol City v Sunderland on Saturday

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