The English Football League made a thrilling return this weekend, and there were some interesting takeaways from the opening fixtures.
Southampton and Sheffield Wednesday kicked off the 2023/24 Championship season on Friday, with Southampton securing a late 2-1 victory in their first game since being relegated from the Premier League. It was an exciting start to the season.
On Saturday, the rest of the EFL teams, except for Leicester, Coventry, Leeds, Cardiff, Sunderland, and Ipswich, who play on Sunday, began their campaigns amidst wet and windy conditions. Despite the absence of the relegated Premier League sides from last season, there were plenty of noteworthy results across the three leagues.
Let’s dive into three standout games and what we can learn from them:
1. QPR’s Troubles:
QPR had a disastrous start to their Championship campaign against Watford at Vicarage Road. They found themselves trailing 4-0 at halftime, with Watford’s Tom Dele-Bashiru, Imran Louza, Matheus Martins, and Vakoun Issouf Bayo tearing apart QPR’s defense. This poor start doesn’t come as a surprise, considering QPR’s 5-0 loss to League One team Oxford United in their pre-season and their lack of spending in the summer transfer window. Gareth Ainsworth, who helped them avoid relegation last season, might already be under pressure.
2. Barnsley’s Dominance:
Barnsley fans were in heaven as their team thrashed Port Vale 7-0 at Oakwell in League One. Last season’s play-off finalists were unfortunate not to secure promotion back to the Championship at Wembley. However, their hopes of promotion this season received a significant boost with this impressive victory. Devante Cole’s hat-trick, along with goals from Dan Jones, Liam Kitching, Jon Russell, and Andrew Dallas, showcased Barnsley’s attacking prowess. In fact, this win is the biggest victory on the opening weekend of a Football League campaign since Wolves defeated Manchester City 8-1 in 1962/63.
3. Wrexham’s Reality Check:
Wrexham, owned by Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, ended their 15-year absence from the EFL with great excitement. However, they were given a harsh reality check when they went 2-0 down within the first 10 minutes against MK Dons at the Racecourse. Despite scoring three goals, Wrexham suffered a 5-3 defeat. This result serves as a reminder that the transition back to the EFL may take more time than anticipated for the Welsh club, who had an impressive run to secure automatic promotion from the National League last season.
It’s important to note that this is just the beginning of the season, and there is still plenty of time for teams to find their rhythm and make adjustments. However, these early games have provided some intriguing insights into what we can expect in the coming weeks.
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Let’s enjoy the return of the English Football League and all the excitement it brings!
On the opening day of the English Football League (EFL) season, teams across the three divisions saw action and several talking points were highlighted, both positive and negative. Here are three things we learned from the first round of games.
First and foremost, Wrexham were dealt a harsh reality as they were beaten 2-1 at home by fellow National League members Solihull Moors. This was the Welsh side’s first ever competitive game in the EFL, and the result sent out a warning that the Motormen cannot expect an easy season ahead.
Second, Queens Park Rangers were made to rue their profligacy in front of goal as Brian Barry-Murphy’s Rochdale held them to a 1-1 at Loftus Road. Injury-stricken QPR were without several key players, but they will be hoping that they can replicate their strong end to last season once a full-strength squad is available.
Finally, Barnsley were tipped as ones to watch this season and they garnered all three points on the opening day, seeing off Blackburn Rovers 3-2 at Oakwell. Cauley Woodrow was back to his free-scoring best, netting twice, while Alex Mowatt’s goal from the penalty spot ensured that away stopper Christian Walton was given an early taste of his own medicine.
The first day of the EFL season was certainly an eventful one, and several teams are already looking to push on after impressive starts. Wrexham, QPR and Barnsley are just three of the teams we have to keep an eye on over the coming weeks and months.