Wednesday 6 August 2008

Weekend Championship Preview

Despite the disappointing transfer activity and increasingly pessimistic forecasts for the season ahead, you have to look upwards and hope that this will be a season to relish. As you know, I have my doubts but will believe we can yet add quality to our squad where it's needed most and that our youngsters will give us something to cheer about all season.

The opening fixtures are an interesting mix and might produce a number of surprises....

Birmingham City v Sheffield United

Ouch! I wouldn't want to open away at St Andrews. Alex McLeish's boys will want to start as they mean to go on, at the top of the table, and will be expecting a comfortable home win. Sheffield United have strengthened during the close and will be expecting a top 6 finish.
Prediction; 1-1

Blackpool v Bristol City

A tight game in prospect here. Blackpool were hard to beat at Bloomfield Road last year but City made the play-offs and should look equally strong this season. A strong City following can urge them on for the point.
Prediction; 1-1

Cardiff City v Southampton

If this game were played later in the season my money would be on it being a relegation encounter. I'll go with home form to be enough for the Bluebirds.

Prediction; 1-0

Charlton Athletic v Swansea City

I don't think Swansea will pull up any trees this year but you really don't want to get them in the first game. At least we have home advantage although that rarely worked last year. We should have enough here despite the squad short-comings but I can see the Swans opening their points account.
Prediction; 1-1

Coventry City v Norwich City

Chris Coleman will be desperate to get off to a winning start and I expect Coventry to get it. Freddie Eastwood to put the Black Country nightmare behind him and score on his debut.
Prediction; 2-0

Crystal Palace v Watford

I wouldn't fancy Palace away first game and I suspect Aidy Boothroyd's boys won't either. It will be interesting to see how Palace have dealt with the losses of key players during the season. They have replaced them well and should match-up.
Prediction; 2-1

Derby County v Doncaster Rovers

They do like to pit promoted and relegated teams against each other on the first day. I can't see the fairy tale for Donny lasting too long and they might get the tonking Derby got most weeks last year.
Prediction; 3-0

Ipswich Town v Preston North End

Ipswich had a great record at Portman Road last year and know how to take advantage on their own turf. Preston are one of my favourites for the drop and I will be shocked if they get anything here.
Prediction; 2-0

Plymouth Argyle v Wolverhampton Wanderers

Argyle have signed ex-Charlton man of few games, Simon Walton, for an undisclosed fee but thought to be a club record (in excess of £500k). Like when at charlton, Walton struggled to get a first team outing at QPR and whilst he will play at Home Park, he might have a big challenge on his hands. Wolves have a useful looking blend of youth and experience and I can see them sharing the spoils come 5pm.
Prediction; 1-1

QPR v Barnsley

Iain Dowie has already upset Flavio Briatore and the word "sack" has been mentioned between them. I hope not because it's still early enough for Rangers to appoint a far more capable manager to shape their season. I think they should do the decent thing and give him 20 games before paying him off. Rangers have had a dismal pre-season but we should take that with a pinch of salt. If Barnsley do beat them it will be all the evidence we need that all is not well in the Rangers camp.
Prediction; 1-0

Sheffield Wednesday v Burnley
Wednesday look like they have another long struggle ahead and Burnley are being talked up as promotion contenders. I can't see it myself and think Wednesday could get off to winning start.
Prediction; 2-1

Nottingham Forest v Reading

The cameras have gone for another of the relegated v promoted matches and the revival of Nottingham Forest. It should be a good match to watch but I expect Reading to skate it and signal their intent for the title.
Prediction; 0-3

Come on you REDS!

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