The 2018 Championship season kicks off Friday night as Sunderland take on Derby at the Stadium of Light as the Black Cats look to return to the Premier League at the first attempt (KO 19:45).
The new season promises plenty, as Sunderland look to bounce back to the Premier League as they take on Derby in the opening game, which takes place on a Friday night.
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Newcastle will certainly be looking to bounce back and boost morale this weekend after what happened to them late on in the game against Queens Park Rangers on Wednesday night, as Ciaran Clark provided QPR with a point through a rather spectacular own goal in the dying moments of the match.
However, with Newcastle having been expected to win in that game, they will not be considered quite such clear favourites in their upcoming fixture against a strong Derby County side who are making a strong claim on the Championship playoff spot following a red hot streak of form.
What are the odds? Sunderland vs Derby Predictions & Stats
Top goalscorer Dwight Gayle is still missing from the side due to injury, and with no investment into the side during the January transfer window, Toon fans and indeed Rafa Benitez will be disappointed during this crucial period of the season.
Whilst QPR sit in marooned in 18th place, seemingly destined for another season of Championship football next season, Derby County are a much more competitive side, currently sitting in 7th, following Sheffield Wednesday’s win last night, and pushing for a playoff spot and their own promotion to the Premier League next season.
Since Steve McClaren has come into the mix for the Rams, he has really turned things around, and has only lost 2 matches in a long flurry of good form, showing that they really are the real deal now and with ten wins out of their last fourteen in the league Derby fans are hopeful of a Premier League return.
And despite playing away from home this weekend, Derby are likely to put up a good fight against Newcastle this weekend, as they have shown they thrive on the counter and are happy to play without the ball, as demonstrated against Ipswich last time out.
Whilst Ipswich had 60% possession, Derby had a real cutting edge going forward, winning the match 3-0, when it easily could have been more.
This match is therefore a tough one to call, and whilst many will still have Rafa’s men down as favourites in the match, it is hard to really pick a decisive winner in the match. Newcastle are the 5/6 favourites, however its difficult not to be tempted with the 4/1 on offer on the Derby away win.
As a result, and with the match being so important to both sides, this will certainly be one to watch if you’re looking for a good footballing contest this weekend and it has all the potential to be a cracker.
Its the stand out game in the Championship this afternoon and surely one not to be missed.
Strap yourselves in.
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