Bristol City vs Sunderland Preview: Sides at opposite ends of the Championship looking to rectify poor form

Bristol City vs Sunderland Preview: Sides at opposite ends of the Championship looking to rectify poor form

Bristol City host Sunderland in the Championship this Saturday with the two in very different situations.

Jack McGraghan

Bristol City play host to relegation battling Sunderland in the Championship on Saturday as both sides look to bounce back from disappointing defeats last time out.

The Robins' defeat at the hands of Bolton Wanderers saw their slump in form continue, while the Black Cats suffered their eighth home defeat of the season against Ipswich Town.

Robins in danger of throwing away Premier League dream

They may not have been in the minds of many when predicting the Championship play-off places prior to the start of the season, but Bristol City's start to the campaign ensured they gave themselves a chance of promotion to the top-flight.

Recent form threatens to derail that however, with one win and seven defeats in their last nine games leaving them inside the play-off places by just three points with Preston North End looking to catch up.

Their recent exploits in the Carabao Cup won't have helped in terms of fatigue and fixture congestion, but that excuse can't last much longer and Lee Johnson's side must recapture the form that saw them get to the play-offs in the first half of the season.

Top-scorer Bobby Reid has gone five games without a goal in all competitions as his side have slumped to defeats at the hands of Bolton, QPR and Norwich City in recent weeks, and the Robins need him firing again if they are to pick up wins.

Assistant head coach Dean Holden drew similarities between Saturday's game to Bristol City's last match against Bolton, saying Sunderland will "probably approach the game in a similar manner" to the Trotters, and admitted that "teams are aware of our strengths now" in the wake of his side's poor form.

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Black Cats in need of inspiration

After a 1-0 win over fellow strugglers Hull City in January, Sunderland looked to be improving and capable of picking up points against those around them. Since then however things haven't gone to plan, with a 3-1 defeat at Birmingham City and last week's 2-0 loss at home to Ipswich leaving the Black Cats in a precarious position.

Inconsistent performances have plagued Chris Coleman's side for much of the season, with winning performances against Hull, Nottingham Forest and Fulham overshadowed by poor displays such as a 4-0 thumping away to promotion candidates Cardiff City.

Coleman is still fairly limited in terms of squad selection and despite bringing in three loan signings on deadline day is not blessed with a wealth of options thanks to injuries.

Ashley Fletcher - on-loan from North-East rivals Middlesbrough - has a heavy weight on his shoulders for the remainder of the season with the 22-year-old Sunderland's most experienced forward with youngsters Joel Asoro and Josh Maja the only other strikers available.

Coleman commented on the potential protest set up by Sunderland at his pre-match press conference, saying that although he understands "why the fans are annoyed and disappointed, frustrated and angry" with the current situation, his team need the supporters to "stay with us and stick with us because we won’t get to where we need to without them."

Team news

Milan ĐurićMatty Taylor, Eros Pisano, Jens Hegeler and Callum O'Dowda are all unavailable for the Robins while goalkeeper Frank Fielding is a doubt ahead of kick-off. Nathan Baker is still suspended after his sending off against QPR.

Centre-back Jake Clarke-Salter is fit again for the Black Cats after overcoming the hamstring problem that saw him miss the Ipswich defeat, although Callum McManaman and Robbin Ruiter will play no part due to a shin injury and a dislocated finger respectively.

Predicted line-ups

Bristol City (4-4-2): Steele; Bryan, Wright, Flint, Smith; Kent, Diony, Brownhill, Paterson; Reid, Diedhiou.

Sunderland (5-3-2): Camp; Oviedo, O'Shea, Browning, Clarke-Salter, Jones; Robson, Ejaria, Cattermole; Fletcher, Asoro.