The majority of Bristol City fans will likely be happy to see the end of 2021 because it’s been a disappointing year for the Robins.
It started with City dropping like a stone under Dean Holden and quickly saw him replaced by Nigel Pearson, though the experienced coach is yet to have the transformative impact that many will have hoped he would.
City will hope that a new year and some smart business in the winter window can help the club make the progress that is clearly needed in January.
As we reflect on a year that the Ashton Gate faithful would likely rather forget, we’ve ranked the top five best Robins players of 2021 – let us know on social media whether you agree…
5. Andreas Weimann
Seeing as he missed half the year due to injury, Andreas Weimann’s presence on this list might be a surprise to some but whether it was through his impressive performances on the pitch or the lack of quality going forward in his absence, his importance to this City squad has been clear throughout.
The Austrian has been back amongst the goals since returning to the side at the start of the 2021/22 campaign – top scoring with nine for the Robins so far this term and currently on course to smash his own single-season tally in Bs3.
But it’s more than just his goals that earn Weimann a place on this list, his energy on the pitch is infectious and his dynamism has been vital in an attacking unit that has too often looked toothless and bereft of inspiration.
It’s telling that City averaged the fewest shots per game by some distance last season, a campaign in which injury restricted the 30-year-old to just seven appearances, and Robins fans should be relieved that he penned a new three-year deal in June.
What club do these 20 ex-Bristol City strikers play for now?
4. Matty James
Matty James may have only arrived in the summer but he’s become arguably City’s most irreplaceable player already.
The departures of Korey Smith, Josh Brownhill, and Marlon Pack in three consecutive windows meant the Robins squad was bereft of leaders in midfield last season but James’ arrival was a step toward solving that issue.
The way he commands the midfield and looks after possession has allowed City to start to control games in midfield again while their struggles during his injury highlight what an important influence he is on the side.
Fellow summer arrival Rob Atkinson has been an excellent addition and was unlucky not to earn a place on this list but James has been the best signing of Pearson’s tenure and the Robins’ fourth-best player in 2021.
3. Tomas Kalas
2021 has been a year of highs and lows for Tomas Kalas, with the crown of captaincy often seeming to weigh heavy on the head of the Czech international.
It meant that at times the central defender didn’t match up to his own high standards but Kalas still deservedly slots in at number three on our list of the best City players.
When he’s at his best the 28-year-old is among the top tier of Championship defenders and he has finished the year with a flourish, returning to near his finest form since he handed the captain’s armband to Dan Bentley.
In the summer, there were suggestions that the defender could leave Ashton Gate but as 2021 comes to a close, Robins supporters will be pleased such an exit never materialised.
2. Antoine Semenyo
In a year that has for the most part been a dull one for City fans, Antoine Semenyo has been the one player to consistently inject some excitement.
The forward has long been a player whose potential has dominated discussion but in the 2020/21 campaign, he made the transition from a bright prospect to a key attacking weapon and scooped the young player of the year award last term for his efforts.
Injury has kept him out for the majority of the current campaign but he’s on his way back to his best, as his goal and three assists in nine appearances show.
For the most part, City have not been fun to watch in 2021 but the same cannot be said for Semenyo.
1. Dan Bentley
There is a strong argument to be made that were it not for Dan Bentley, City could be playing League One football right now.
While City struggled through the second half of last season, their goalkeeper regularly won them points they didn’t deserve by keeping them in games they should’ve been out of – ultimately proving vital as they stayed clear of the relegation battle.
He won the 2020/21 player of the season award and after being handed the captaincy in the summer, has continued to impress between the sticks this term.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a single City fan that doesn’t have Bentley at the top of their list for 2021.