It’s time for the new EFL Championship season, and with clubs like Stoke, WBA and Swansea, it might be even more competitive than the last one. A lot of clubs have already done a good job in this transfer window and some of them are preparing a really good fight for promotion, but for now we will just try to predict what will happen in this first round that’s in front of us.
Reading vs Derby County
At this time, we might get some idea of what Derby County will be under Frank Lampard. They have won four of their five pre-season matches and it seems that everything is looking good for Derby County. Reading, on the other side, is still struggling to improve; they had no win in their six pre-season games and it is certain that Paul Clement will rely on his defence and try to win this game from a counter. I don’t expect a lot of goals in this one as I think that Reading will work hard in defence, but Derby County is great in attack and I do believe that they will score at least one.
Derby County to win: 0-1
Birmingham vs Norwich
Last season was not that good for Birmingham as they were fighting for survival, but since the arrival of Garry Monk, they started winning and they can easily continue that form now that they are not under pressure. Norwich had a better pre-season than Birmingham, but they have lost their key player when James Maddison left for Leicester. This can prove to be a good game, with both clubs scoring a lot of goals in pre-season, there is no reason for us to expect any different style of play now, but considering the fact that Birmingham plays at home, I think that they have a better chance of winning this one.
Birmingham to win: 3-2
Brentford vs Rotherham
It is safe to say that Brentford managed to get a perfect opponent for their first match. Rotherham got promoted to Championship through League One play-offs; they have been struggling at the end of their season in League One and it doesn’t seem that their squad is good enough to compete with teams like Brentford. Although Rotherham scored in almost all of their pre-season matches, I believe that Brentford can keep a clean sheet here. Brentford is excellent in attack, and I would expect them to score at least two in their opening game.
Brentford to win: 2-0
Bristol City vs Nottingham Forest
I don’t think that Lee Johnson will manage to repeat his success from last season. They have sold Aden Flint to Middlesbrough and Bobby Reid to Cardiff. It will be nice to see Famara Diedhiou in more action this season as he scored 13 goals for Bristol City in last one. Nottingham Forest, on the other side, has really improved their squad. I still expect Aitor Karanka to play defensive football, but I think that he’ll do a much better job this time. So, Nottingham Forest has a much better squad, and in this game, I expect them not only to win, but to keep a clean sheet too.
Nottingham Forest to win: 0-2
Ipswich vs Blackburn
Although they might lose Martyn Waghorn, Ipswich has been excellent under Paul Hurst in pre-season. It’s harder when you play a competitive match, but they have looked dangerous in pre-season, especially against West Ham, when they provided a good fight against their strongest team. Paul Hurst might prove to be a great manager once again, but this time in a better league and he got a match against Blackburn, a team that he already played against with Shrewsbury in League One. Ipswich is simply a better side, they have a promising manager, good pre-season behind them and they play at home, for me they have a better chance to win this one.
Ipswich to win: 2-0
Millwall vs Middlesbrough
Both clubs haven’t showed much in pre-season matches, but Middlesbrough was quite busy in this transfer window. Britt Assombalonga will probably start this one as they have sold Patrick Bamford to Leeds United. It is hard to say if any team can win this one, Middlesbrough is having a better squad, but without Adama Traore they might struggle to score, and Millwall is excellent at home. For me, this match can easily be finished with both sides keeping a clean sheet.
Preston vs QPR
Another one that can end up with a draw is a clash between Preston and QPR. Although Preston had a quite good pre-season, they might struggle against QPR as they are quite good away from home. Both clubs are playing attacking football, so we can expect a lot of goals in this one, but for me, it’s hard to say if any side is better than the other.
WBA vs Bolton
West Bromwich Albion will play their first match against Bolton and it will be interesting to see what Darren Moore can do in Championship. They haven’t lost any of their pre-season matches and they have a much better squad than Bolton. From what we could’ve seen so far, WBA will probably play a defensive football and for me, Sam Johnstone was a great addition to their squad. Bolton was awful away from home last season, and it wouldn’t be surprising if they continue that form.
WBA to win: 2-0
Wigan vs Sheffield Wednesday
To be honest, I really don’t expect much from Sheffield Wednesday this season, I don’t think that they have improved their squad and they haven’t played that good in pre-season neither. Wigan was in great form last season, they were not just the best team in League One, but they also had a great run in FA Cup where they’ve won against Bournemouth, West Ham and even Manchester City. For me, Wigan might pull a surprise here and get a win against Sheffield Wednesday.
Wigan to win: 1-0
Sheffield United vs Swansea
It’s not only that Swansea wasn’t that good in pre-season, their squad doesn’t look that good neither. They might struggle this season in Championship, while Sheffield United is looking very confident. Sheffield United brought Ben Woodburn on loan from Liverpool and they look very dangerous in attack. They are great at home and I believe that they have a better chance of winning this one.
Sheffield United to win: 2-1
Leeds vs Stoke
This might be the most exciting match in this gameweek, Stoke City looks very good with Gary Rowett and so does Leeds United with Marcelo Bielsa. It’s hard to say if Patrick Bamford will start right away so I expect Kemar Roofe to start as a striker for Leeds United in this one. Also I expect a lot of goals from this one as both teams are great in attack. Leeds United had a better pre-season, and considering that they play at home, I think that they have a better chance to win.
Leeds to win: 2-1
Hull vs Aston Villa
Aston Villa had a good pre-season and their team looks confident to repeat the last season’s success. Hull on the other side has not improved their squad as good as I think they should. Injuries might be the biggest problem for Aston Villa as it’s still unknown who will start as a striker in their opening game. However, I still expect Aston Villa to win, and maybe even keep a clean sheer. Aston Villa to win: 0-1