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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Fizzy 15 - Bristol City(a)

So it's Bristol City away and if you expected a different pictorical viewpoint, sorry about that, but I'm a bum man and as it happens it's more appropriate as you'll see later. So, anyway, as befits a team second in the Table, the current form of our opponents today is really very good with 4 wins, a draw and a defeat in the last six. And it's currently 5 games without loss as their last defeat was that 3-0 howler at Barnsley, back on October 2nd. And that defeat has been their only defeat, so far, which means, of course, that they are currently unbeaten at home.

Who Are These People?
Well, 2nd in the League with 27 points, 5 more than the Addicks, and with a home record of 4 wins and 3 draws and zero defeats. Last season they finished second behind Scunthorpe in Tier Three and they've continued their good run into the Fizzies.
But how you ask? What's a Tier Three team doing in second spot. Their secret is familiarity, but without the contempt, and a high work-rate. Like Watford's settled team continuing from last season, Bristol have a similar plan and there's five players that have started all 14 games and another five in double figures. In comparison the Addicks only have two ever-presents, Weaver and Semedo and that's due to change tonight as well.
Their manager is Londoner Gary Johnson and is another one famous for post match comments and one of his latest could be interesting if you go shopping before the game. He apparently said recently "If Fonts ever scores I'll bare my backside in Burtons window" referring to Bristol City defender Liam Fontaine. Sorry Gary, he scored at the weekend. Thankfully, we'll miss this frightening sight as he's consulting his lawyers over the small print and saving himself for Christmas.
And there's more bad news on the horizon for Gary as you can see from their home results. They've beaten Stoke, Southampton, Sheff U and Scunthorpe and drawn with Burnley, WBA and QPR, which for some strange psychological reason means that they fail to beat anyone that doesn't start with an 'S'. Sorry, Gary we're a Big 'C' club.
But having said that, they have a good record against other teams in the top half, with 4 wins and only one defeat - Barnsley - in the 7 games. And of the seven goals they scored in the winning games against the 'S's at home, 6 were scored in the first half. Overall they've scored first in 8 games and - unlike the Addicks who have given away points after scoring first - they have gone on to win 7 of them. So the best plan would be to frustrate them till half-time and then sneak a late goal for the win. We've done it once, why not again?

So What's the History Then?

Well, as you ask, its very good as a matter of fact. We'd had 25 League visits to Bristol and we've won no less than 9 of them. And drawn another 5 which means we've only lost there 11 times. And overall, including Cup games, we're won a massive 28 times with only 15 defeats. In fact, there's only a hand-full of clubs that we've beaten more times than Bristol City.

Any Useful Foreign Johnnies?

Its another port town but unlike the French multitude from Plymouth there's only one foreigner to worry about and everyone should. His name's Adriano "always believe" Basso, a Brazilian goalkeeper and before every game he points to the sky and says... yes, that's right, always believe...

Leading Goalscorer is the Birmingham-born super-sub, ex-Millwall and Gills Jamaican international Darren Byfield, with 5 goals from only 5 starts. We've had trouble with Jamaican strikers before this season with Ricardo Fuller scoring against us for Stoke so watch this one, Pards. Byfield arrived in the summer along with the expensive left-winger, the Scot Michael 'the steam engine' McIndoe. Chris Iwelumo will know him well as they both claim they are good enough for the national side.
Another regular goalscorer is the midfield Scot, Scott Murray and new boy Lee Trundle on 3 each. Trundle, bought for 1M during the summer is perhaps better known for his celebrity girlfriend, whose name I've forgotten, and off-field antics but more to the point he scored 78 times while at Swansea in only 146 games. He's number 23, Pards. And lastly there's news of Captain Courageous, Louis Carey, who'll be playing despite broking his nose for the third time last week.

Pardew's Plan or Is Racon Ready?
The big question today is who to play in place of the suspended Semedo? After the recent third defeat in a row, Pards was determined to get something from St. Marys so played a 4-5-1 with only one striker, Iwelumo. After that win, he would be due to return to his favorite 4-4-2 but the suspension of the over-present Portuguese and the need to try to get something from Ashton Gate may mean another single striker.

That's what I expect, especially bearing in mind Bristol's storming starts, and perhaps we can hope that Matty Holland is fit to play. Otherwise, there's only one other possibility and that's Darren Ambrose but he's not what you might call a defensive player so it's Therry Racon for me.

So the team: Weaver; Mills, Sonje, Fortune, Basey; Sam, Racon, ZiZi, Reid, Thomas; Iwelumo.

Prediction... 1-1
Can't see us keeping our luck and having another clean sheet and although another win would be a fantastic result it's maybe a bridge, or a gate to far, with Semedo missing. Then again I don't think we'll get beat. So a draw looks the most likely bet.

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