Build-Up To The New Season – Queens Park Rangers

Team; Queens Park Rangers

Nickname; Hoops, R’s

Founded; 1886

Manager; Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink

Stadium Name; Loftus Road

Stadium Capacity; 18,489

Major Honours; (2) Second Division, (1) Third Division, (1) League Cup

Main Rivals; Chelsea, Brentford, Fulham

Biggest Win Against Brighton; 5-0 (April 1928, August 1947

Biggest Defeat Against Brighton; 5-0 (March 1925)

Last Meeting; Brighton 4-0 QPR (April 2016)

When Do They Play Brighton; Monday 26th December (The AMEX), Saturday 8th April (Loftus Road)

 

Players To Watch;

Goalkeeper; Alex Smithies

Defender; Steven Caulker

Midfielder; Tjaronn Chery

Striker; Jamie Mackie

 A disappointing campaign last time out for the R’s, and they will be hoping to do much better this time around. Some can put the poor season to the fact they sold top scorer Charlie Austin back in January to Southampton, with no real replacement. Austin’s successor Conor Washington has been hit and miss, and has struggled to make an impact, although he has been doing just that while on international duty for Northern Ireland. New signings in Joel Lynch and Jake Bidwell should sure up a creaky defence, but it’s up top where they will need to strengthen, if they want to mount a serious challenge for a top 6 spot, and as of yet, there seems to be no sign of that happening.

Last Season’s Finish; 12th

Predicted Finish; 15th

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Build-Up To The New Season – Preston North End

Team; Preston North End

Nickname; Lilywhites

Founded; 1880

Manager; Simon Grayson

Stadium Name; Deepdale

Stadium Capacity; 23,404

Major Honours; (2) First Division, (3) Second Division, (2) Third Division, (2) F.A Cup

Main Rivals; Blackpool, Blackburn, Burnley

Biggest Win Against Brighton; 4-0 (October 1974)

Biggest Defeat Against Brighton; 5-1 (September 1978)

Last Meeting; Preston 0-0 Brighton (March 2016)

When Do They Play Brighton; Saturday 15th October (The AMEX), Saturday 14th January (Deepdale)

 

Players To Watch;

Goalkeeper; Anders Lindegaard

Defender; Tom Clarke

Midfielder; Paul Gallagher

Striker; Joe Garner

 Preston had a good first season in the Championship last time out, and they will be looking to improve even more this coming season. So far so good for Simon Grayson; he has kept his best players and has recruited well, with Tommy Spurr and Simon Makienok the main arrivals. While Preston will be looking to mount a serious challenge for a top 6 finish, it will be a much harder task with the arrivals of Villa, Newcastle and Norwich to the league. Much like last year, they will have to rely on home form to get them up the table; if they struggle at home, they may fall close to the trapdoor, but they should finish comfortably in mid table for me.

Last Season’s Finish; 11th

Predicted Finish; 14th

Build-Up To The New Season – Nottingham Forest

Team; Nottingham Forest

Nickname; The Reds

Founded; 1865

Manager; Philippe Montanier

Stadium Name; City Ground

Stadium Capacity; 30,445

Major Honours; (1) First Division, (3) Second Division, (2) F.A Cup, (4) League Cup, (2) European Cup, (1) UEFA Super Cup

Main Rivals; Derby, Notts County

Biggest Win Against Brighton; 4-0 (August 1950, September 1982)

Biggest Defeat Against Brighton; 2-1 (Febuary 2007, May 2014, April 2016)

Last Meeting; Forest 1-2 Brighton (April 2016)

When Do They Play Brighton; Friday 12th August (The AMEX), Saturday 4th March (City Ground)

 

Players To Watch;

Goalkeeper; Dorus de Vries

Defender; Michael Mancienne

Midfielder; Henri Lansbury

Striker; Britt Assombalonga

 Forest have been on a downwards spiral ever since their take over by the Al-Hasawi family, and this season is expected to be another dismal one. Excuses can be made last season, as the club were under a transfer embargo which hindered their ability to attract players, as well as the loss of their centre forward Assombalonga in pre-season, meaning they had to borrow from the Seagulls for Chris O’Grady. They do have good players in their ranks, namely Lansbury and Jamie Ward but a group of 3/4 players can’t carry the weight of an entire team, and if one or two get injured, it’s going to be a long season for the Reds.

Last Season’s Finish; 16th

Predicted Finish; 19th

Build-Up To The New Season – Norwich City

Team; Norwich City

Nickname; Canaries

Founded; 1902

Manager; Alex Neil

Stadium Name; Carrow Road

Stadium Capacity; 27,244

Major Honours; (3) Second Division, (2) Third Division, (2) League Cup

Main Rivals; Ipswich

Biggest Win Against Brighton; 4-1 (November 2009

Biggest Defeat Against Brighton; 3-0 (December 1982)

Last Meeting; Brighton 0-1 Norwich (April 2015)

When Do They Play Brighton; Saturday 29th October (The AMEX), Saturday 22nd April (Carrow Road)

 

Players To Watch;

Goalkeeper; John Ruddy

Defender; Martin Olsson

Midfielder; Robbie Brady

Striker; Kyle Lafferty

 Norwich have had a roller coaster few years; after being relegated in 2014 from the Premier League, they made an immediate return the following season, but couldn’t sustain the consistency needed to stay up. This season, while they may keep the same players as last season, it may be harder for them to get out of with teams such as Brighton, Derby, Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich and Cardiff all breathing down their neck to be just one of the 6 in the playoff places or above come May. While they will still be firm favourites for an automatic return to the top tier, like Newcastle, their Premier League quality players may not live up to the pace and intensity of the Championship from the get go.

Last Season’s Finish; 19th (Premier League)

Predicted Finish; 6th

Build-Up To The New Season – Newcastle United

Team; Newcastle United

Nickname; The Magpies

Founded; 1892

Manager; Rafa Benitez

Stadium Name; St James Park

Stadium Capacity; 52,405

Major Honours; (4) First Division, (3) Second Division, (6) F.A Cup

Main Rivals; Sunderland

Biggest Win Against Brighton; 5-0 (October 1961)

Biggest Defeat Against Brighton; 4-2 (January 1992)

Last Meeting; Brighton 2-0 Newcastle (January 2013)

When Do They Play Brighton; Saturday 27th August (St James Park), Saturday 28th January (The AMEX)

 

Players To Watch;

Goalkeeper; Matz Sels

Defender; Jesus Gamez

Midfielder; Jonjo Shelvey

Striker; Alexsander Mitrovic

Newcastle have had a disastrous few seasons, with them languishing near the bottom, too close for comfort. Last season was probably their worst season since they were last relegated back in 2009, and it was a shock to most especially with the players brought in; Mitrovic, Georgino Wijnaldum, Florian Thauvin and Andros Townsend just to name a few. Admittedly, the loss of Wijnaldum and Townsend won’t be a massive blow, especially with the acquisitions of Dwight Gayle and Matt Ritchie, but they should still be in complete command of this league with the players the behold, and anything short of promotion is regarded as a bigger failure that relegation.
Last Season’s Finish; 18th (Premier League)

Predicted Finish; 1st

Build-Up To The New Season – Leeds United

Team; Leeds United

Nickname; The Whites

Founded; 1919

Manager; Garry Monk

Stadium Name; Elland Road

Stadium Capacity; 37,890

Major Honours; (3) First Division, (3) Second Division, (1) F.A Cup, (1) League Cup

Main Rivals; Manchester United, Chelsea, Bradford, Millwall, Huddersfield

Biggest Win Against Brighton; 3-0 (November 2009)

Biggest Defeat Against Brighton; 4-0 (Februrary 2016)

Last Meeting; Brighton 4-0 Leeds (Februrary 2016)

When Do They Play Brighton; Saturday 10th December (The AMEX), Saturday 18th March (Elland Road)

 

Players To Watch;

Goalkeeper; Marco Silvestri

Defender; Charlie Taylor

Midfielder; Stuart Dallas

Striker; Kemar Roofe

 Leeds have been up and down more times than a lift in a shopping mall; once the feared of Europe, now a team which finishes mid table in the English second division. Give them credit, they have been consistent (consistent in being average), but this season might be slightly different. Owner Massimo Cellino has made a promise this season, that Leeds will gain a play-off place, or he will give a partial refund on seasons tickets. It may sound daft, but it gives fans extra incentive to get behind their team, a team which has got down to business quite early in this window. The signing of Roofe signals that they should be a threat, and also then loanings of Kyle Bartley and Matt Grimes from Swansea look very good acquisitions. All in all, Leeds could bring the thunder this season, especially under the guidance of new manager Garry Monk.

Last Season’s Finish; 13th

Predicted Finish; 10th

Build-Up To The New Season – Ipswich Town

Team; Ipswich Town

Nickname; Tractor Boys

Founded; 1878

Manager; Mick McCarthy

Stadium Name; Portman Road

Stadium Capacity; 30,311

Major Honours; (2) Second Division, (1) Third Division, (1) UEFA Cup, (1) F.A Cup

Main Rivals; Norwich City

Biggest Win Against Brighton; 3-1 (March 1982)

Biggest Defeat Against Brighton; 3-0 (February 2012), (January 2013)

Last Meeting; Brighton 0-1 Ipswich (December 2015)

When Do They Play Brighton; Tuesday 27th September (Portman Road), Tuesday 14th February (The AMEX)

 

Players To Watch;

Goalkeeper; Bartosz Bialkowski

Defender; Luke Chambers

Midfielder; Teddy Bishop

Striker; Daryl Murphy

 Ipswich had an up and down season last time. They were joint top with the Albion in August, and before they knew it they were outside the play-offs struggling to gain points. Only a sudden head of steam in the second half of the season got them into the respectable position of 7th, but they will feel that was a under achievement, considering they got to the play-offs the season before. Despite this, Ipswich still remain a head team to beat, and this season should be no different, and could make a return to the play-offs if they can gain momentum early on. 

Last Season’s Finish; 7th

Predicted Finish; 7th

Build-Up To The New Season – Huddersfield Town

Team; Huddersfield Town

Nickname; Terrriers

Founded; 1908

Manager; David Wagner

Stadium Name; John Smith’s Stadium

Stadium Capacity; 24,500

Major Honours; (3) First Division, (1) Second Division, (1) F.A Cup

Main Rivals; Leeds United, Bradford, Barnsley, Oldham

Biggest Win Against Brighton; 7-1 (August 2009)

Biggest Defeat Against Brighton; 4-1 (March 2013)

Last Meeting; Brighton 2-1 Huddersfield (January 2016)

When Do They Play Brighton; Tuesday 13th September (The AMEX), Tuesday 31st January (John Smith’s Stadium)

 

Players To Watch;

Goalkeeper; Danny Ward

Defender; Mark Hudson

Midfielder; Sean Scannell

Striker; Nahki Wells

 Not the greatest season for the Terriers last time out, finishing in 19th place, but they will be looking forward to this season. They have brought in a few new faces most notably Liverpool keeper Danny Ward and forward Elias Kachunga from Ingolstadt. Head coach David Wagner will be hoping he can use his knowledge he learned from his time as Jurgen Klopp’s assistant, to guide the Terriers up the table, and push for a play-off spot. While they may have aspirations to get out of the league, it seems they aren’t moving forward, and they only they will get out of the league is going down rather than up, and this may be the season when it happens unless they can get off to a good start.

Last Season’s Finish; 19th

Predicted Finish; 22nd

Build-Up To The New Season – Fulham

Team; Fulham

Nickname; Cottagers

Founded; 1879

Manager; Slavisa Jokanovic

Stadium Name; Craven Cottage

Stadium Capacity; 25,700

Major Honours; (1) Division One (3) Division Two

Main Rivals; Chelsea, QPR, Brentford, Crystal Palace, Gillingham

Biggest Win Against Brighton; 2-0 (November 1996)

Biggest Defeat Against Brighton; 5-0 (April 2016)

Last Meeting; Brighton 5-0 Fulham (April 2016)

When Do They Play Brighton; Saturday 26th November (The AMEX), Monday 2nd January (Craven Cottage)

 

Players To Watch;

Goalkeeper; David Button

Defender; Tomas Kalas

Midfielder; Tom Cairney

Striker; Ross McCormack

 Fulham had a dreadful season last year, and only got some joy at the end of the season when Jokanovic took over from Kit Symons. They were the joint 3rd highest scorers, mostly due to McCormack’s 21 goals, and Moussa Dembele’s 15, but the latter has since moved to Celtic. So far this summer, Fulham have recruited well, bringing keeper Button from Brentford to strengthen a position, which seems to be getting weaker every season. Kalas has arrived on loan from Chelsea, after a good season with Middlesbrough last time, and the signing of Sone Aluko will hopefully replace the goals that Dembele’s left behind. They should do much better than last season, but it seems like a mid0table finish will be as good as they get this season.

Last Season’s Finish; 20th

Predicted Finish; 13th

Build-Up To The New Season – Derby County

Team; Derby County

Nickname; Rams

Founded; 1884

Manager; Nigel Pearson

Stadium Name; iPro Stadium

Stadium Capacity; 33,597

Major Honours; (2) Division One, (4) Division Two, (1) Division Three, (1) F.A Cup

Main Rivals; Nottingham Forest, Leicester, Leeds

Biggest Win Against Brighton; 4-1 (November 2008 & May 2014)

Biggest Defeat Against Brighton; 2-0 (December 1979, March 2012 & March 2015)

Last Meeting; Brighton 1-1 Derby (May 2016)

When Do They Play Brighton; Saturday 6th August (iPro Stadium), Saturday 11th March (The AMEX)

 

Players To Watch;

Goalkeeper; Lee Grant

Defender; Richard Keogh

Midfielder; Will Hughes

Striker; Tom Ince

 Derby will feel hard done by after not securing promotion back to the Premier League. After having a blinding 1st half of the season, they fell away slightly during the later month of the season, some say down to manager Paul Clement leaving his post, after a fall out with the clubs owners about progression. On the field, Derby were as good as anyone on their day, and will look to be the same again. They could do with a fresh new look of signings to bolster their squad, but other than in goal, they look threatening enough to pose a serious promotion challenge, it’s just a case of ‘can Pearson guide them to promotion’ like he did 2 years ago with Leicester.

Last Season’s Finish; 5th

Predicted Finish; 5th