Bristol City v Wolves: Lee Johnson says Robins 'need to do a job for the league'
Bristol City manager Lee Johnson says his side "need to do a job for the league" by beating leaders Wolves in Saturday's first against second match in the Championship at Ashton Gate.
Despite being held to a 2-2 away draw at Millwall on Boxing Day, Wolves increased their lead to eight points.
But Johnson's Carabao Cup semi-finalists are the league's form team having won five of their past six.
"We did all right against them last time. We did a job on them," he said.
"Now we need to do a job for the league. It's a massive game and we'll have them well studied again."
City twice came from behind, then briefly led themselves, before having to settle for a 3-3 draw at Molineux on 12 September.
But, with over half of the season gone, there is now a bit more riding on this game for a Robins side currently riding a tidal wave of euphoria in the West Country.
It was topped by the injury-time victory over EFL Cup holders Manchester United, in front of a 26,088 crowd, before another near-capacity 23,116 witnessed the Boxing Day 2-0 win at home to Reading.
"These are Premier League games we're having at the moment," said Johnson. "Our fans have been excellent. We'll need them again. It's another night game and should be a great atmosphere.
"It's still relatively early as far as our league position is concerned, but we will do our best to keep churning out performances and hope that, in the end, those will produce results."
- Wolves and Bristol City have both lost just three times this season in 24 Championship matches - but two of City's defeats have been at Ashton Gate.
- The Robins are unbeaten in seven games in all competitions, of which they have won six - including the last-gasp League Cup win over holders Manchester United.
- Wolves are unbeaten in 10 games, of which they have won eight.
- Wolves (45) have scored more goals than any other team in the Championship. City are the next best, on 39, level with sixth-placed Sheffield United.
- Nuno's side have also conceded the fewest league goals (19). Only four sides in the division have conceded fewer than City's 24 in 24 games.
- Bristol City top scorers: 12: Bobby Reid; 6: Famara Diedhiou, Aden Flint, Jamie Paterson.
- Wolves top scorers: 12: Leo Bonatini; 10: Diogo Jota; 7: Ivan Cavaleiro.
Will Wolves remain on course?
Four clubs have led the Championship this season - Cardiff City, Leeds United, Wolves and Sheffield United - although that is technically five, if the table is also to be seriously counted on the opening day of the season, when Bristol City led the rest after a 3-1 win over Barnsley.
A succession of quick changes of leadership were then brought about largely caused by the staggered kick-offs created by TV scheduling.
But Wolves have not been headed now since mid-November - and have gradually increased the gap to its current eight-point margin.
"It would take a Devon Loch for Wolves to slip up now," according to Steve Bruce, manager of fellow Midlands promotion challengers Aston Villa. "They've been the benchmark all season."
Wolves head coach Nuno gives nothing away at any press conference he attends, whether pre-match or post-match, constantly insisting with mantra-like repetition that his expensively assembled and hugely entertaining side do not get carried away and that they continue to take one game at a time.
"We are developing," he said after his side had truly furthered their footballing education with that gutsy Boxing Day draw at The Den. "We want to achieve high standards as a team.
"Each game, each training session is a chance to improve. This is our philosophy. We want to make every day better. And we will need the fans again this Saturday."
Who might win at Ashton Gate?
There have been first v second contests in all four top English divisions this season - and the side in second place has yet to win.
- In League One, leaders Wigan Athletic were held to a 0-0 draw by second-placed Shrewsbury Town on Boxing Day.
- It was the same story in League Two in early December when table-topping Luton Town were held 1-1 by second-placed Notts County.
- Premier League leaders Manchester City won 2-1 at Old Trafford against second-placed Manchester United on 10 December.
- And this season's first battle of the top two was in the Championship back in August when second-placed Wolves were beaten by Cardiff at Molineux in August.