Build-Up To The New Season – Sheffield Wednesday

Team; Sheffield Wednesday

Nickname; Owls

Founded; 1867

Manager; Carlos Carvalhal

Stadium Name; Hillsborough

Stadium Capacity; 39,732

Major Honours; (4) First Division, (5) Second Division, (3) F.A Cup, (1) League Cup

Main Rivals; Sheffield United, Leeds, Barnsley, Rotherham, Doncaster

Biggest Win Against Brighton; 4-0 (October 1990)

Biggest Defeat Against Brighton; 3-0 (September 2012)

Last Meeting; Brighton 1-1 Sheffield Wednesday (May 2016)

When Do They Play Brighton; Saturday 1st October (Hillsborough), Saturday 21st January (The AMEX)

 

Players To Watch;

Goalkeeper; Kieran Westwood

Defender; Tom Lees

Midfielder; Ross Wallace

Striker; Fernando Forestieri

 Last season’s play-off losers will be looking to go one step further, in their pursuit of top flight football once again. After beating Brighton in the semi-finals of the play-offs, their performance in the final against winners Hull was pretty poor. They have kept all of their star players from last season, and will be hoping they can perform again to get promotion to the Premier League, with much of the weight on the shoulders of Forestieri, Wallace, Almen Abdi and Marco Matias. Their strikers will be looking to score plenty too, and the arrival of Steven Flectcher should provide stiff competition between him, Forestieri, Gary Hooper, Lucas Joao and Atdhe Nuhiu.

Last Season’s Finish; 6th

Predicted Finish; 2nd

Build-Up To The New Season – Wigan Athletic

Team; Wigan Athletic

Nickname; Latics

Founded; 1932

Manager; Gary Caldwell

Stadium Name; DW Stadium

Stadium Capacity; 25,138

Major Honours; (2) Third Division, (1) Fourth Division, (1) F.A Cup, (2) Football League Trophy

Main Rivals; Bolton, Preston, Bury, Oldham, Burnley, Blackburn

Biggest Win Against Brighton; 4-2 (March 2005)

Biggest Defeat Against Brighton; 2-1 (February 1993, August 2001)

Last Meeting; Wigan 2-1 Brighton (April 2015)

When Do They Play Brighton; Saturday 22nd October (DW Stadium), Monday 17th April (The AMEX)

 

Players To Watch;

Goalkeeper; Adam Bogdan

Defender; Jake Buxton

Midfielder; Emyr Huws

Striker; Will Grigg

 After being relegated to the third tier of English football, it seemed that the days of being a Premier League team were truly numbered. However, after a change of chairman and philosophy, they bounced back straight away winning the League One title. They maybe someway off becoming a top flight team again, but this promotion should get them back on the right ladder to get back their soon. Keeping valuable players is key for any promoted side, and none more so that top scorer Grigg. Notable mentions as well with Huws, Max Power, Nick Powell and Yanic Wildschut, who all have a key input into the Latics team. They should survive this season, and safety will be their number one priority.

Last Season’s Finish; 1st (League One)

Predicted Finish; 18th

Build-Up To The New Season – Wolverhampton Wanderers

Team; Wolverhampton Wanderers

Nickname; Wolves

Founded; 1877

Manager; Walter Zenga

Stadium Name; Molineux

Stadium Capacity; 31,700

Major Honours; (3) First Division, (3) Second Division, (3) Third Division, (1) Fourth Division, (4) F.A Cup, (2) League Cup

Main Rivals; West Brom, Aston Villa, Birmingham, Walsall

Biggest Win Against Brighton; 3-2 (September 1969, January 1979)

Biggest Defeat Against Brighton; 5-1 (May 1985)

Last Meeting; Brighton 0-1 Wolves (January 2016)

When Do They Play Brighton; Tuesday 18th October (The AMEX), Friday 14th April (Molineux)

 

Players To Watch;

Goalkeeper; Carl Ikeme

Defender; Dominic Iorfa

Midfielder; Joao Teixeira

Striker; Nouha Dicko

 Wolves had quite an average season last time out, but they have recently been taken over by a Chinese consortium, making them the 2nd richest club in England (behind Man City). With a huge amount of spending power, Wolves should be in or around the play-offs this season, and with the arrival of manager Walter Zenga too, anything but an extended season will be considered a failure. However, buying too many players in at once, as many ALbion fans will know with the loan signings from 2 seasons ago, not all of them gel quick enough to produce instant results, which could hinder their season early on. But they should definatly be considered contenders.

Last Season’s Finish; 14th

Predicted Finish; 8th

Build-Up To The New Season – Rotherham United

Team; Rotherham United

Nickname; Millers

Founded; 1925

Manager; Alan Stubbs

Stadium Name; New York Stadium

Stadium Capacity; 12,021

Major Honours; (2) Third Division, (1) Fourth Division, (1) Football League Trophy

Main Rivals; Barnsley, Sheffield Wednesday, Sheffield United, Doncaster

Biggest Win Against Brighton; 5-2 (April 1961)

Biggest Defeat Against Brighton; 6-0 (February 1960)

Last Meeting; Rotherham 2-0 Brighton (January 2016)

When Do They Play Brighton; Tuesday 16th August (The AMEX), Tuesday 7th March (New York Stadium)

 

Players To Watch;

Goalkeeper; Lee Camp

Defender; Joe Mattock

Midfielder; Lee Frecklington

Striker; Jonson Clarke-Harris

 A hard second season for the Millers last time, started with a embarrassing 4-0 opening day defeat at home to MK Dons. It never really picked up from their until Neil Warnock took over for the last 16 games, where they had a slight revival to guide them away from the relegation zone. So far, they haven’t really strengthened their squad, and it looks on the light side which will prove costly over the season. If they don’t recruit before the end of the window, the could find themselves in the bottom 3 for a majority of the season.

Last Season’s Finish; 21st

Predicted Finish; 20th

Build-Up To The New Season – Reading

Team; Reading

Nickname; Royals

Founded; 1871

Manager; Jaap Stam

Stadium Name; Madejski Stadium

Stadium Capacity; 24,161

Major Honours; (2) Second Division, (3) Third Division, (1) Fourth Division

Main Rivals; Oxford Utd, Swindon, Aldershot Town

Biggest Win Against Brighton; 7-0 (November 1950)

Biggest Defeat Against Brighton; 8-3 (April 1957)

Last Meeting; Brighton 1-0 Reading (March 2016)

When Do They Play Brighton; Saturday 20th August (Madejski Stadium), Saturday 25th February (The AMEX)

 

Players To Watch;

Goalkeeper; Ali Al-Habsi

Defender; Chris Gunter

Midfielder; Oliver Norwood

Striker; Yann Kermorgant

 A hard season for Reading last time out, as they slumped to a lowly 17th place finish. They never really got out of first gear for much of the season, and struggled to string results together like they had done in past years. The signings of Matej Vydra, Ola John and Lucas Piazon were all signals of intent, but neither of them lit up the league like they were tipped to do. With all 3 now gone (as they were all loans) it’s hard to see where Reading will find any sort of goals, considering they have also lost Hal Robson-Kanu on a free transfer. Another lowly finish is expected to be in the offing.

Last Season’s Finish; 17th

Predicted Finish; 17th

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

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