The new Football League season finally gets underway this weekend – and it is Brighton who host Nottingham Forest in Friday night’s season opener.
The Seagulls, who recently completed the signing of former fan favourite Bobby Zamora on a one year contract, will be hoping to get the season off to a good start and aim higher than the 20th position they finished last year, whereas Forest will be hoping that under Dougie Freedman they can make a sustained push for the play-offs, despite having struggled with a transfer embargo this summer which has only allowed them to sign free agents.
Last season’s play-off finalists Middlesbrough start off with an away trip to League One final victors Preston on Sunday, hoping that the addition of Stewart Downing will help them go one better this term. Simon Grayson’s side will know that with the squad at his disposal, he should be able to guide them to safety.
Bristol City, who romped away with the League One and Football League Trophy double last time out, start their Championship journey with a tricky trip to Hillsborough, where they face Sheffield Wednesday. The Owls have signed 10 players this summer with the cash injected by owner Dejphon Chansiri. And with a new manager in Carlos Carvalhal will be expecting to challenge for a top-6 place. Opponents City have been quiet in the transfer market so far, but should still have a strong enough side to compete in the top half.
Recently relegated QPR travel to a new-look Charlton on the opening Saturday, and could be without a number of their squad who ended last season last place in the Premier League. Boss Chris Ramsey has admitted due to the club’s finances, star man Charlie Austin could depart the club, but expects him to feature in the club’s first five games.
Elsewhere, Brentford host Ipswich in a battle of two sides who narrowly missed out on promotion glory last season in the play-offs. Mick McCarthy’s side came away with all three points the last time they travelled to West London, in last Boxing Day’s clash – and will be hoping to get a similar result to the 2-4 drubbing handed out on that day.
Birmingham City v Reading
Blackburn Rovers v Wolverhampton
Bolton Wanderers v Derby County
Brentford v Ipswich Town
Brighton v Nottingham Forest
Cardiff City v Fulham
Charlton Athletic v Queens Park Rangers
Hull City v Huddersfield Town
Leeds United v Burnley
Preston North End v Middlesbrough
Rotherham United v Milton Keynes Dons
Sheffield Wednesday v Bristol City