Bristol City welcome Cardiff City to Ashton Gate this afternoon as they look to do the double over their Severnside rivals for the first time since the 2002/03 campaign.
The Robins may have lost to Brentford in midweek but Dean Holden will take a lot of positives from the way they went toe-to-toe with one of the Championship’s top sides for long periods.
Mick McCarthy was at the Brentford Community Stadium on Wednesday evening and his side are likely to pose City some very different challenges this afternoon.
With that in mind, we’ve examined the dilemmas that Holden is facing ahead of today’s 3pm kick-off against Cardiff…
The problem at left-back
Injuries to Jay Dasilva, Steven Sessegnon and, most recently, Tommy Rowe have left City short of options at left-back.
Adrian Mariappa filled in against Brentford in midweek but had a very difficult evening, with Tariqe Fosu tormenting him and proving the match-winner for the Bees by setting up all three goals.
It will be interesting to see whether Holden looks to change things up on the back of that display and he could turn to Zak Vyner and Jack Hunt, who are not natural left-backs but have many of the characteristics that could make them comfortable in the role.
There’s no doubt that Cardiff should be looking to exploit the issue in the Severnside derby, which makes it a real dilemma for the Robins boss.
How to cope with Kieffer Moore
The powerful striker is the Bluebird’s top scorer this season and looks likely to be their most significant attacking threat.
The 28-year-old has caused the Robins serious issues in the past, particularly during his time with Wigan, and is someone that could decide the fixture if the hosts aren’t properly prepared to deal with him.
Holden has stuck with the Tomas Kalas and Alfie Mawson partnership at centre-back in recent weeks but both made crucial mistakes against the Bees in midweek. Neither defender will shy away from a physical battle with Moore but he’s a smart striker, so they’ll have to be careful to track his movement.
The Robins boss may look to shift back to the three at the back system with Vyner dropping into the defensive line to shore things up – with Sheyi Ojo and Harry Wilson also likely to cause problems.
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Whether to stick with the kids
Holden named a youthful and energetic line-up against the Bees, with Owura Edwards handed his debut, Antoine Semenyo on the opposite flank, and Han-Noah Massengo in midfield.
Massengo was imperious, producing arguably his finest performance in a City shirt, while Edwards showed glimpses of his quality in a raw performance and Semenyo continued his strong 2020/21 campaign.
The question facing the City boss is whether to stick with the kids or to turn to some of his more experienced options in what looks likely to be real battle.