Lancashire Club’s Championship Matchday One Preview


With the Championship season starting, this weekend, so does the five-way battle between most of Lancashire’s finest teams.

As each club look to one up each other as they fight for bragging rights at the end of the season, 41 other clubs stand in their way of what could potentially be a special or a disastrous season for them.

We don’t have to wait long for a Lancashire derby, however, as Preston North End face a trip to the DW Stadium as they face Wigan Athletic, but it’s Burnley who get the ball rolling as they kick off the Championship season against last season’s play-off finalists Huddersfield Town.

Huddersfield vs Burnley

The first fixture of the entire season – Vincent Kompany’s clarets will have the pleasure of being the opening fixture of the EFL as they look to embark on a campaign where they’ll be hoping to bounce straight back to the Premier League.

Clever recruitment from the East Lancashire club has seen them sign great talents such as CJ Egan-Riley, Luke McNally, Josh Cullen, and Scott Twine on permanent deals and bring in Taylor Harwood Bellis and Ian Maatsen on loan from Manchester City and Chelsea, respectively.

The sales of Nathan Collins to Wolves for around £22m and Nick Pope to Newcastle for £10m has helped fund this new look Burnley side which is being built in the vision of new boss Kompany who seems to be changing the culture at Turf Moor.

When it comes to their trip to the John Smith’s stadium on Friday, they will be facing a Huddersfield side that are coming off the back of play-off disappointment on top of losing key players in Lewis O’Brien and Lewis Toffolo and their manager Carlos Corberan.

They have replaced O’Brien with the acquisition of Jack Rudoni from AFC Wimbledon for just under £1m, who put up 12 goals and five assists in League One for a side who were relegated to League Two, last season.

With home advantage and a manager who looks to keep the same principles as their previous manager, The Terriers are looking to bounce back and go one step further, although it seems it’s going to be a long more difficult for them this time around.

Vincent Kompany will want to mark this new culture shift with a win and get his young guns hitting the ground running straight away, but a difficult task awaits them in the form of Danny Schofield’s Terriers.

Burnley will be without Jay Rodriguez, Johan Berg Gudmundsson, and Ashley Westwood for this fixture as Huddersfield go into the tie with a clean bill of health.

Blackburn vs QPR

Onto Burnley’s rivals, John Dahl Tomasson will start his reign at Ewood Park against Michael Beale’s QPR.

Blackburn’s disappointing collapse in the second half of last season which saw them battling for automatic promotion to falling out of the play-off spots entirely saw them part ways with Tony Mowbray in the summer and bring in the former Malmo man who is looking to stamp his authority and philosophy straight away.

Emphasis on possession and the use of width to create chances with fast and energetic passing is what saw him bring Malmo back to being champions of Sweden and reach the Champions League proper.

Whilst Callum Brittain remains as Rovers’ sole senior signing so far, keeping hold of Ben Brereton Diaz has been impressive from them so far as many clubs such as Sevilla and West Ham are looking at the Chilean and are willing to spend big money to acquire the forward who scored 22 goals in the Championship, last season.

On the other hand, selling him would allow Tomasson to build the squad more in his image and benefit Blackburn in the long term, however, he remains a player at Ewood Park and they’re still thankful for that fact either way.

QPR are another side who departed with their manager after a collapse in form in the second half of the season, they have the foundations of a play-off competing squad and the hiring of Michael Beale is an exciting prospect at Loftus Road which could elevate them to the next level.

His reputation for being an astound tactician and coach made him a key part of Steven Gerrard’s backroom staff at Aston Villa and Rangers, now he takes his first managerial role and QPR could look to benefit from it greatly.

This game will be a close contest, Blackburn at home are a very strong outfit, but QPR do have the quality in personnel to make life very difficult for Tomasson’s men – A draw wouldn’t be the worst result in the world for either side.

Both sides have no injuries or suspensions going into the clash.

Blackpool vs Reading

Not many teams have had as rough of a summer as the Tangerines – losing Neil Critchley who went to Aston Villa to replace Michael Beale as Steven Gerrard’s ‘number two’ and top targets such as Colby Bishop and Ellis Simms turning them down for other options.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom as the recent loan signings of Rhys Williams, Theo Corbeanu, Lewis Forini, alongside Dominic Thompson on a free from Brentford has provided much needed hope for the Seasiders as their club finally made some progress in the window.

They face Reading at Bloomfield Road on Saturday afternoon in what could prove to set the tone for the rest of the season for Michael Appleton’s side as both teams are tipped to be in a relegation scrap.

Blackpool will be hoping that Bloomfield is a fortress as it was last season where they won 48% of the matches, they played at home compared to the 22% away – this form was crucial to their return to the Championship and will no doubt be even more vital as they try to stave off the case of potential ‘second season syndrome’, despite many odds being against them but if there is a club that can defy them, it’s Blackpool.

Reading have lost key players such as Andy Rinomhota, Josh Laurent, and John Swift to other Championship rivals only to replace them with jeff Hendricks on loan from Newcastle, Shane Long on a free transfer, and Tom Ince making his stay with his dad, Paul Ince, permanent.

With one of the smaller squads in the division, Reading will be hoping on the experience of Scott Dann, Long, and Hendricks to get them through the season and see them past Blackpool on the opening day, although going to the Fylde Coast will be a difficult task for them and once again could be a tight contest.

It’s also a full squad to pick from for both teams as no injuries or suspensions are reported.

Wigan vs Preston

The first Lancashire derby of the season – Preston will have the luxury of taking a sell-out away end to the DW Stadium as many fans are really on board the ‘Lowe-comotion’.

With the signings of Robbie Brady, Freddie Woodman, and Ben Woodburn along with the loanees of Troy Parrott and Alvaro Fernandez from Tottenham and Manchester United respectively, it’s hard not to be optimistic for the season.

Whilst they still need another signing at striker and left-wing back, the squad is in better shape than the same time, last year and gives them a massive edge coming into the weekend.

Wigan on the other hand, are looking to right the wrongs which saw them harshly relegated in 2019/20 due to mismanagement from their controversial owner at the time.

The only notable addition to the squad is Ryan Nyambe on a free transfer from Blackburn Rovers, a strong defensive presence at right-back which bolsters their options and gives them Championship experience and a younger option to Tendayi Darikwa.

Will Keane faces his former club, which he was on loan to in 2015, where he struggled greatly to find form and was recalled, however off the back of a 26-goal campaign, he surely has momentum on his side and could look to replicate that goalscoring form in the Championship, this season if Leam Richardson sticks to his tactical style.

Alongside some tremendous quality in the squad such as Gwion Edwards, Callum Lang, and Graeme Shinnie to name a few, Wigan aren’t exactly pushovers and could surprise a few if they can get off on the front foot on Saturday.

With Preston focusing on build-up play and possession, Wigan would need to interrupt their flow early on and get in the faces of Ryan Lowe’s men to stand any chance of a result, but Preston are more than capable of playing Wigan off the park if they get their way on day.

You’d have to say Preston are the favourites for the game, but if Wigan can put the Lilywhites off their rhythm, then you can’t write off a potential upset.

Wigan will be missing Charlie Wyke through his heart condition which he was diagnosed with in November 2021, Preston have a full squad to pick from.


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