The inside track on Bristol City: What Middlesbrough can expect at Ashton Gate

Bristol City's Tommy Rowe celebrates scoring a late equaliser away at Birmingham.Bristol City's Tommy Rowe celebrates scoring a late equaliser away at Birmingham.
Bristol City's Tommy Rowe celebrates scoring a late equaliser away at Birmingham.
Middlesbrough will take on a high-flying Bristol City side this weekend – but what can Jonathan Woodgate’s men expect at Ashton Gate?

We caught up with Robins reporter Gregor MacGregor from BristolLive to get the inside track on Boro’s next opponents.

1. How are Bristol City shaping up after their first five Championship games?

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GM: “Pretty good, it’s three wins in a row now and they’ve only really been outclassed in that first game against Leeds United so I think there’s a real opportunity this weekend to put a marker down and go equal top of the Championship.”

2. Who are City's key players and who will Boro need to look out for?

GM: “Probably the front two, Benik Afobe has scored three goals in his last three games, it took him 27 games to score that many towards the end of last season while he was on loan at Stoke.

Lee Johnson has really got him firing of late and the other guy Andreas Weimann has scored a couple of times already this season as well. He basically just works his socks off. He chases back, he harries, everything a manager wants in a player.”

3. What’s the latest on City’s injury concerns?

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GM: “The vulnerability of the side is at the back where they’ve got a few injuries and we’re expecting Ashley Williams to make his debut this weekend because they lost Tomas Kalas to a hamstring injury last Saturday and he’ll be out for four to six weeks.

“They’ve got several other injuries at the back, Bailey Wright is out for a few weeks, they had Taylor Moore and Nathan Baker at the back last weekend so those two will probably play at the back along with Williams.”

4. What system are City likely to play?

GM: “He’s been using a three at the back system this season and it suits a lot of the Bristol City players because they haven’t got too many real top-quality centre-halves.

“With three at the back it leaves them a little less exposed and there is always a bit more cover there, it will be three at the back almost certainly again which means the wing-backs will probably be Tommy Rowe on the left and and Jack Hunt on the right.”

5. What would mark a successful season for City?

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GM: “To be in the play-offs, that’s what they’re aiming for. The owner Steve Lansdown basically set that out in the summer.

“The only point against that is they did a heck of a lot of transfer business in the summer, they brought in 12 new players, they sold Adam Webster who was probably they’re best player last season.

“They got a big fee but that deal went through very late in the window and they didn’t properly replace him.

“They brought in Ashley Williams on a free transfer, who was released by Everton in the summer, they did go for other players but didn’t get them. They also brought in Afobe but brought him in right at the very end of the window.

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“Fair play to the head coach because he’s got them organised very quickly.”

6. Finally, how do you see the game playing out and what’s your score prediction?

GM: “I’ve been saying I think it might be a good time to play Middlesbrough, they haven’t won away from home yet this season in the league. I think everyone down this way sees it as a real opportunity.

“I think this is going to be a really good test because City got into a really good position last season but couldn’t do the business at home when you expected them to get a win.

“I don’t think it will be one-sided at all though, I wouldn’t be surprised if Boro get a draw but I’m probably tipping a narrow home win.”