The promotion race is in the spotlight when another set of matches in the Sky Bet Championship get underway on Friday night when Leeds United look to move into second place for around 24 hours when they head to Ashton Gate to face Bristol City.
This has been a hectic period of action for Bristol City and they will look to round it off with a win which sparks their promotion challenge into life. Leeds are heavily involved in the race to go up but know they can’t afford to lose.
Where to watch
The match will be shown live and in full on the Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Football channels with an extended build-up beginning at Ashton Gate at 7pm ahead of the 8pm kick off.
When Liam Manning was appointed at Bristol City, I expected them to launch a real promotion challenge, albeit one which would need to culminate in the play-offs, and when they won three successive matches over Christmas it looked like that prediction had legs. They have since gone five outings in the league without a win and that has seen them slip six points off the top six and really in need of a win here to keep that challenge alive.
The positive for Bristol City is in that time they have beaten West Ham United and held Nottingham Forest here in the FA Cup so their overall form is much better than the league stuff. Three of those five games without a win have been on their travels too but to their credit they come into this one off the back of a good 2-2 draw with a very good Coventry City side in midweek. The amount of games they have played in recent times could be an issue but they have rotated their squad well enough given their strong activity.
Leeds United have been involved in a very hot automatic promotion race all season, although it did look like their challenge was beginning to falter when they ended 2023 in a bit of a rough trot. They have come alive again in 2024 though, winning their four league games and moving to within two points of Ipswich Town, who themselves are starting to find the going a little tougher to handle than they did earlier in this exciting Championship campaign.
Leeds have conceded just one goal in those four wins and in and around that they have made it through to the fourth round of the FA Cup, so confidence at Elland Road should be on the high side. If there is a question mark over this Leeds side then it would come in the form of their record on the road, where they have lost as many as they have won, although they did win their last away game in Cardiff. They will be hoping another M4 soiree yields a similar result.
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Bristol City boss Liam Manning remains without the likes of Kal Naismith and Mark Sykes through injury and Scott Twine joined the injury list earlier in the week. Tommy Conway was rested for the Coventry game and is expected to start here.
Leeds United boss Daniel Farke will be without the injured trio of Stuart Dallas, Karl Darlow and Pascal Struijk for the trip to Ashton Gate but having rested the likes of Junior Firpo, Patrick Bamford and Glen Kamara for the cup match last week, they are likely to be recalled.
If Bristol City weren’t in the middle of this hectic spell of matches I would probably take my chances on them but the amount of games they have had put me off backing them. I don’t really like Leeds United on the road though at the minute and I did ordinarily have them down as struggling against a side who keep the ball well and love to go against the bigger boys on their home ground. I’ll tentatively leave the match outcome alone and go with a different bet.
That comes in the both teams to score market where the longer the match goes on the more you would fancy Leeds United to find the net. They will have plenty of options to change matches in their favour as we saw against Preston last month, but Bristol City will come out of the blocks and be a real danger for the first hour if not more. The way these two teams play I expect to see an open game with a lot of chances created so the 9/10 on both teams to score looks good enough to me.
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