The English football season has arrived and, while the Premier League campaign doesn’t start for another week, we cannot wait to sink our teeth into the next nine months of action.
So who will we be backing on Saturday? We’ve picked three teams to all start their league campaigns with a win. At odds of 9/2, it would be a lovely way to get the new campaign up and running.
Here we go.
Ipswich Town v Barnsley
An incredible second half of 2015-16 saw Paul Heckingbottom’s Barnsley win the Football League Trophy before clinching promotion from League One via the play-offs. As magical as that journey was, there’s a good chance they’ll come crashing back to earth in their Championship opener against Ipswich.
The step up in quality won’t be easy for the Tykes this term, and survival would signal a job well done. The trip to Portman Road looks particularly unenviable as Mick McCarthy’s men will be eager to start 2016-17 on a high, especially after narrowly missing out on last season’s play-offs.
In Freddie Sears, Brett Pitman, David McGoldrick, and Daryl Murphy, Ipswich shouldn’t be short of goals, and should have more than enough firepower to put Barnsley to the sword. The Tractor Boys are known for having one of the tightest home defences in the division too, which should also work in their favour.
Barnsley will be full of optimism, but we think they’ll come up short. Home win.
Millwall v Oldham Athletic
Neil Harris’s Lions were just 90 minutes away from promotion last term, but the south Londoners have had time to dust themselves off and will be raring to go as they look to launch a promotion challenge this term. A home game against Oldham should be the perfect opportunity to start it in style.
Despite a poor start, Millwall won 13 times at home last term while Oldham won just five times on their travels. While the visitors did register an impressive 13 draws, the Latics were lacking in quality. Stephen Robinson faces a real challenge this term, and regular defeats in pre-season won’t have done much to help their confidence.
Billy McKay will pose a threat, but if Millwall can nullify the Northern Irishman, they’ll be in with a fantastic shout of winning. Steve Morrison, Lee Gregory and Aiden O’Brien will all be out for goals this term; do not be surprised if they begin the campaign with a bang.¬
Millwall registered a 3-0 win when the sides met on the penultimate weekend of last season. A similar scoreline could be on the cards here.
Eastleigh v Guiseley
Conference National Guiseley were lucky last season in the fact that four teams were even worse than them. However, they’ll need to play far better if they want to avoid the drop this term, and could be in for a nasty opener as they head to the Silverlake Stadium.
Eastleigh have the potential to be one of the division’s frontrunners, and Chris Todd’s men will be expecting to win this one. James Constable and co will want to punish an away side that won just three away games in 2015-16, and it could be the perfect way to launch an early assault for the play-offs or better.
As with most Conference clubs, there have been changes amongst both sides. However, the hosts are amongst the favourites for promotion while Guiseley are odds on for the drop. That tells a story in itself, and that should show here.
The opening day is always a difficult one to call, but Eastleigh should win with a degree of comfort. We’re backing them to do just that.