Watford vs QPR
Starting off my Goals Galore in the EFL Championship we have a London derby.
To replace departures Joao Pedro (Brighton) and club record signing Ismalia Sarr (Marsille), Watford have recruited well adding Tom Ince from a relegated Reading with his 13 goal contributions from last season as well as Rhys Healey from Toulouse as he seeks to recapture his form which saw him net 33 times in two seasons in the France’s second flight. So there are still goals in this side. Watford are still a team to watch for goals.
At the back, Watford lost a lot of experience this summer: Christian Kabasele (Udinese), William Troost-Ekong (PAOK), Craig Cathcart (Free Agent), and Mario Gaspar (Elche). The four combined for 99 appearances and will leave a massive leadership hole in the dressing room which I think will spill over onto the pitch.
It’s been a quiet summer for QPR, with their most notable signing being one Asmir Begovic. However, the 36-year-old is not the player he once was, making just 4 league appearances in the last two years! The QPR back line saw some additions from the U21 squad but with an injury to Jimmy Dunne, the lack of first team minutes may come back to haunt The R’s. Last year’s record of 1.54 goals conceded per game could be at risk of getting worse this year…
QPR will take solace in their retention of Dykes, Willock and Chair who were the club’s top goal contributors last season, the trio tallied up 32 of QPR’s 44 goals (72%). If all of them start for Ainsworth, doubtless QPR will find the back of the net.
Swansea vs Birmingham
The Swans look to build on their 10th placed finish last year by adding the likes of Jerry Yates and Josh Ginnelly who contributed a combined 34 goals to their sides last season. These incoming players will add to main man Joel Piroe’s 21 goal contributions and make Swansea’s attack a force to be reckoned with!
At the back, Swansea are much the same as the side who conceded 1.39 goals per game. The only change being the departure of Latibeaudiere to Coventry.
I contrast it’s been all change for Birmingham with 8 departures and 12 incoming players across all positions, making them a real unknown quantity. This lack of consistency from last season could result in disorganization as players build an understanding with one another.
This could see last season’s record of 1.26 goals against per game get worse; especially against a strong looking Swansea in the opening game.
Deeney and Chong leaving the club does raise the question of goals but with three attacking signings from the Championship, Birmingham will hope that there will not be too much of a drop off in this regard.
Blackpool vs Burton Albion
Blackpool look to return to the Championship at the first time of asking following relegation last season. The departure of Yate’s 14 goals will be missed but Blackpool will be feeling optimistic in their young loanee Kyle Joseph who contributed 9 goals to a struggling Oxford side in the division last year.
The defense was simply not good enough at the Championship level, resulting in 1.57 goals conceded per game. Retaining the same players at a lower level should help things a bit but at this point it would be a question about confidence and adjusting to a more physical division.
Blackpool are a side who retained a lot of Championship quality in the summer and will look to press this advantage in the 3rd flight.
With a 15th placed finish last year and conceding 1.72 goals per game last season, the Burton hierarchy have decided to press the reset button on the team. A combined 27 transfers in and out of the club means Burton could do anything this year. But I’m confident they will be able to rack up goals with some of their acquisitions.
Burton have bought in Cole Stockton, who netted 11 times for a poor Morcambe side in ‘22/23. With better service than he received last year, Stockton could return to his form of the year prior, seeing him score 23 goals in his most prolific season to date. This service should come from ex-Millwall winger Mason Bennett, a peripheral figure at The Den but still managed 14 goal contributions in 96 Championship appearances and he will excel one division lower.
Portsmouth vs Bristol Rovers
After an 8th place finish last year, it’s yet another season of League One for Portsmouth as they seek a return to the Championship.
The positives? Pompey retained top scorer Colby Bishop and have added quality in the final 3rd to boot: Sculley, Whyte, and Saydee added in the summer from Championship sides. Goals will not be difficult to come by.
Bristol Rovers sought to address their record of 1.59 goals conceded last season with a number of defensive signings, James Wilson from last year’s League One Champions Plymouth and
the experienced George Friend. Now, experience is a good thing to have but with a combined age of 69 and the rest of the defense being in their early twenties, I’m not sure Bristol have actually improved at the back.
Rovers fans will be happy to see the return of Luke Thomas, joining them on a free following a solid season at Barnsley. The winger brings 5 goal contributions in 27 games from last year into the side.
Reading vs Peterborough
Joining Blackpool in the drop from the Championship last year, it’s a rebuilding job for The Royals.
Losing Ince, Meite and Joao is a big blow and Reading will need to replace their 29 goals if they want to compete in League One.
Andy Carroll is still signed with the club and may suite the physical, long ball style of League One in contrast to the Championship. To help the big man out, Reading have bought in the Cambridge Utd duo of Smith and Knibbs, their 25 goal contributions were instrumental in Cambridge avoiding the drop last season. Supplemented with assists from the incoming Lewis Wing (6 assists in the division last year) Reading could be a side to watch out for.
Following the departure of Jack Taylor to Ipswich, Darren Ferguson hasn’t changed much with Peterborough’s first team. He will be relying on the formidable Clarke-Harris to continue banging in the goals.
Last season the FWD hit 26 in the league and is dominant at this level, Clarke-Harris has scored 57 goals in his 91 League One appearance for The Posh and was the single biggest reason they pushed into the playoff picture last season.
Wrexham vs MK Dons
It’s a much anticipated return to the EFL for Hollywood side Wrexham and Parkinson has done a fantastic job at keeping the core of his side together.
Much of this squad is already League One quality, and even with Paul Mullin absent, they’re still bristling with firepower thanks to the likes of Ollie Palmer, Elliot Lee and Sam Dalby.
From one end to the other, MK Dons find themselves in League Two following relegation last season. Despite scoring less than a goal per game last year, MK will stick with the same front line and hope that they can produce at the lower level. Mohamed Eisa’s 14 goal contributions was not enough last year but looking at the last time that he played at this level for Cheltenham, Eisa contributed an immense 28 goal contributions, netting 23 of them himself.