Bristol City: Can the Robins survive the drop?

Bristol City secured their first win of the season against Manchester United last weekend but how do the Robins build on it to ensure survival in the WSL?

Tanya Oxtoby’s Bristol City side have had an interesting couple months, to say the least. From being thumped 11-1 by Arsenal, to earning one of the results of the season by beating fourth-place Man United at LSV.

City still look like a bonafide WSL side and this season’s relegation scrap could be the making of lots of their players.

With the victory over United dragging them off the bottom of the table, the new decade could not have started any better for Bristol. Now they need to build on this momentum in order to survive.

Staying fit

This is the hardest thing to do as a football team. Injuries are inevitable. At any level of the game, there will always be injuries.

Bristol City are no strangers to bumps and bruises. They had to start with one recognised midfielder against Manchester United, with Jasmine Matthews filling in as holding midfielder.

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Poppy Pattinson made only her second appearance of the season against United. The 19-year-old left-back is one of the most promising young players in the squad.

There is more than enough quality in the Bristol City squad to see them safe this season but whether these players can stay fit will be the difference.

Even against United, Georgia Wilson was forced off and Charlie Wellings took a few knocks. This doesn’t bode well for City seeing as they play Chelsea this weekend.

The heart of a Thylacoleo

Thylacoleo (“pouch lion”) is an extinct genus of carnivorous marsupials that lived in Australia from 2 million to 46 thousand years ago.

Bristol City cannot be accused of lacking heart. Put yourselves in their shoes, and in particular, Sophie Baggaley’s shoes.

She conceded 11 against Arsenal. She faced 35 shots in one single game.

Just a month later, Baggs is pulling off one of the best goalkeeping performances of the season. Why? Because of the amount of character and resolve in this Bristol side.

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It will probably end up being the separating factor in the relegation battle. The team that cares the most will stay up.

You could see how much this team cares just by looking at the celebrations following the victory over United. Even their Australian manager, Tanya Oxtoby couldn’t hold back how delighted she was.

Oxtoby said: “They wanted it, they turned up, they’ll feel that they’ve not done themselves justice with some of their performances and they wanted to put that right today.”

READ MORE: Oxtoby: Bristol need to make sure Man Utd win ‘isn’t a one-off’

More new faces

Even if they won’t be in the squad to face Chelsea, Bristol are planning to add to their squad.

They are in desperate need of a midfielder or two, just to bolster out their options.

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Bristol City have used 20 different players so far this season but may have to make use of the full 23-player allocation, especially with the injury issues that they’ve had.

The only issue would be finding the right players to bring in. A player would come into the squad knowing that they are in a relegation scrap.

They need a hungry player, a player that wants to give everything on the pitch.

That’s why they brought in Elise Hughes from Everton. The young Welsh forward was desperate for game time and will no doubt be willing to make her chances count.

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Taking everything into consideration, at this point, it would be a shock to see Bristol City go down. They are in the right place and even if they get beat by Chelsea this Sunday, they’ll have to channel everything from their United victory when they take on Liverpool on January 19.

It’s odd, but that one game could decide the relegation battle. If City win, they go six clear of Liverpool, if Liverpool win then it’s back to being City on bottom by goal difference.

What is for certain, is that anything could happen.

Welcome to 2020, welcome to the most unpredictable WSL season in history.

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