The opening weekend of the Championship was not exactly what we were expecting from one of the most hated leagues in world football.
Just 20 goals were scored on the first matchday in the second tier, five of which came in Bournemouth’s 3–2 win over Blackburn.
However, with the end of last season and the start of the 2020/21 campaign separated by little more than a month, it is quite understandable that some teams may take a little longer than usual to find their feet.
Midweek should be all about shaking off any rust from a tumultuous pre-season, with 14 of the Championship’s 24 teams in Carabao Cup action, meaning Matchday Two promises a livelier occasion. So to whet your appetite, here’s a 90-minute preview of the upcoming weekend’s clashes.
Despite a spirited effort, Blackburn suffered an opening-day defeat at Bournemouth / Rachel Holborn – BRFC/Getty Images
Despite a spirited opening day performance at Bournemouth, Tony Mowbray’s side left the Vitality Stadium empty-handed.
New signing Daniel Ayala is unlikely to feature for Rovers, who have not played a competitive game since New Year’s Day, although Adam Armstrong is expected to be restored to the starting XI.
Similarly for Rovers, Wycombe suffered a late heart attack in their opening day clash with Rotherham. Gareth Ainsworth will once again be without Adebio Akinfenwa, although Dominic Gap is available after a one-match suspension.
Huddersfield and Brentford both suffered opening day defeats / William Earley / Getty Images
Brentford showed plenty of effort and determination in last weekend’s defeat at Birmingham, but they lacked real success.
A stubborn Huddersfield side represents another big test for Thomas Frank’s men, with some already beginning to question the record signing Ivan Toney’s credentials in the Championship.
Huddersfield began their campaign with a defeat at the hands of Norwich on the opening day, their inability to put the ball in the net once again proving their Achilles’ heel. The search for goals could be aided by the return of Danny Ward, with the frontman looking set to bounce back from the loss to the Canaries.
Mark Warburton’s men showed no signs of struggling on the opening day / James Chance / Getty Images Without goals from Jordan Huggle and Iberichi Eze.
Coventry were extremely unlucky to come away from Ashton Gate without a point last weekend.
However, there is good news on the injury front as Declan Drysdale is available for selection after missing out to Bristol City through suspension. If Mark Robins’ men can continue the form that saw them lose just once at home last season, they will have a very good chance of survival.
Many tipped QPR to struggle without top scorers Iberich Eze and Jordan Huggle, although they looked impressive in their win over Nottingham Forest. A first goal for Lyndon Dykes will delight Mark Warburton, and the Scotland international is expected to retain his place.
Worst possible start for Wayne Rooney at home to Reading / Alex Pantling / Getty Images
Luton’s win over Barnsley last weekend was far from convincing, and boss Nathan Jones will be hoping for a much better performance at home in the derby.
The Hatters have no fresh injury concerns, with both Martin Cranney and Harry Carnick expected to return to the starting XI who miss the midweek Carabao Cup clash with Reading.
Martin Waghorn remains on the sidelines for the visitors, meaning Jack Marriott is likely to start. Meanwhile, new signing Kamil Jozwiak is in contention to start, as Filip Koko’s side look for their first points of the season after a disappointing performance at home to Reading last weekend.
Neil Warnock will be missing this weekend after testing positive for the coronavirus / James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images
Middlesbrough have confirmed this week that Neil Warnock has tested positive for coronavirus, meaning the veteran boss will miss their first home game in the Championship this season. Sam Morrissey looks set to make his league debut for Boro with George Saville likely to miss out.
Bournemouth’s thrilling opening day win over Blackburn is exactly what new boss Jason Tindall would have wanted, as his side picked up their first points of the season after a number of high-profile departures.
The Cherries will be without a whole host of first-team players for the trip to Teesside, including Josh King, Diego Rico and Adam Smith.
Norwich register opening day win at Huddersfield / Ben Early – AMA/Getty Images
Saturday’s win against Huddersfield may not have been good but Daniel Farick won’t care. The home side have no fresh injury concerns as they welcome Championship football back to Carrow Road.
Alex Neil’s absence from their clash with Swansea could feel all the more difficult. A difficult trip from a Norwich side that has lost very few of its top-flight players is not ideal, although Neil can boast a near-full-fit squad for the clash.
Neil Harris takes his Cardiff side to Nottingham Forest on Saturday / Cardiff City FC / Getty Images
Nottingham Forest’s opening day display at QPR was by no means lacking, with Sabry Lamouchi’s men failing to record a single shot on target. Danger man Joe Lovely returns for the clash with Cardiff, although Lamoche has confirmed that Thiago Silva will play no part.
Joe Ralls and Lee Tomlin are both expected to be fit for the Bluebirds, however, the trip will come too soon for Isaac Wessel and Gavin Whyte who are both sidelined.
Gerhard Struber at home Lewton/George Wood/Getty Images can’t have been impressed with his team’s performance.
Veljko Paunovic is expected to name the same starting XI that did so well in the derby last weekend, although the return to fitness of summer signing Ovie Ejaria is a concern for the Reading boss. I can see my work.
Barnsley’s struggles came on the back of a shocking start to the campaign last season, and their opening day defeat at home to Luton will leave Tykes fans worried that history is about to repeat itself. Luke Thomas and Patrick Schmidt both produced impressive performances in the Carabao Cup win over Boro in midweek, and could be in line to start this weekend.
Millwall couldn’t get past a stubborn Stoke side last weekend / Nathan Strick / Getty Images
New signing George Hurst could be set to make his Millers debut this weekend as Rotherham look to build on their opening day win over Wycombe. However, they will be without the injured Curtis Tilt and Clark Robinson.
For the visitors, Troy Parrott is a doubt, as is Mahlon Romeo, and Bart Bialkowski is set to deputize for Frank Fielding in goal.
Gary Rowett’s side looked unconvincing in the opening day’s draw with Stoke and could easily have finished on the losing side.
His 12-point deduction before Garry Monk / Robbie J. Barratt – AMA/Getty Images
Garry Monk’s side are already on the verge of overturning the 12-point deduction they were handed for breaching financial rules.
The partnership between Jordan Rhodes and Josh Windass could be key in their bid for survival, and a clash against a weakened Watford side offers the best chance of back-to-back league wins.
Despite their opening day win over Boro, Watford are clearly affected by the absence of a first team presence at the club. Whether it’s a genuine injury or players pushing for a move, the Hornets are severely depleted and still appear to be without Troy Deeney, Roberto Pereira, Will Hughes, Andre Gray, Ismaila Sarr and Gerard Deulofeu.
Michael O’Neill was delighted with his side’s opening day draw at Millwall / James Bayliss – AMA/Getty Images
Boss Michael O’Neill can be pleased with his side’s point at Millwall last weekend, especially with key men Joe Allen and Ryan Shawcross injured. The pair are expected to miss out once again with Thibaud Verlendon joining them.
Last weekend’s match-winner Tomas Kallis is a doubt for the visitors, having picked up a shoulder injury in the midweek Carabao Cup victory over Northampton. Last season’s top scorer Famara Dedhio is likely to start despite not signing a new contract with the club, with a move away from Ashton Gate looking increasingly likely.
Birmingham produced a brilliant defense to overcome Brentford last weekend / Ross Kinnaird / Getty Images
Swansea were beaten by big spells in their clash with Preston last weekend, but provided the clinical finishing needed to take all three points. Steve Cooper is likely to name the same starting XI that started at Deepdale, with no injury reports.
It was all Aitor Karanka had to do at home to Brentford last week to take an early lead before blowing away everything last season’s play-off finalists had to offer. It was a brilliant performance and Birmingham will be full of confidence coming into it.
Their only minor worry ahead of the weekend trip to Swansea is the fitness of Lukas Jutkiewicz. The frontman has been struggling for match fitness, but he managed to watch almost 90 minutes last weekend despite being in obvious pain.