Blackburn Rovers host Charlton Athletic at Ewood Park on Saturday, as both sides that their Championship campaigns underway after busy summers away from competitive action.
The two clubs enjoyed what will have been considered successful seasons last year, and will be looking to build on that in the coming campaign.
A solid start at Ewood Park will be welcomed by both sides on Saturday, which could make for an intriguing encounter between the two.
But who will come out on top on the opening day of the season? Here, we’ve taken an in-depth look at the matchup here in our latest six point opinion piece in order to get a better idea of the answer to that question.
Firstly, how did both sides fare last season?
“In short: pretty well.
“Having won promotion back to the Championship at the first time of asking during the 17/18 season, Blackburn enjoyed a solid return to the second tier during the previous campaign, finishing 15th but showing the potential to push further up the division.
“Charlton meanwhile ended a three-year wait to return to the Championship in dramatic circumstances.
“After competing for promotion throughout the course of the campaign, The Addicks ultimately sealed their place in the second tier via the play-offs, beating Sunderland 2-1 at Wembley thanks to Patrick Bauer’s 94th-minute goal.”
What sort of business have they done during the summer?
“Blackburn’s has been pretty solid.
“Goalkeeper David Raya is the only first-team regular to have left the club, with Brighton’s Christian Walton joining on a season-long loan to replace the Spaniard. Former loanee Sam Gallagher has returned to the club on a permanent deal, as have Stewart Downing and Bradley Johnson, while Tosin Adarabioyo has joined on a season-long loan from Manchester City.
“It has been a much busier summer for Charlton in terms of both ins and outs.
“Key players Joe Aribo and Patrick Bauer have both already left the club, who continue to fend off interest for right-back Anfernee Dijksteel.
“On the other side of the coin, Ben Purrington and Jonny Williams have returned to the club after their contributions to promotion last season, while strikers Macauley Bonne and Chuks Aneke are also among eight new signings to join the club.”
So what will the two side’s aims be for this season?
“Charlton find themselves in the same position that Blackburn were last season.
“Having won promotion just a few months ago, the goal for the Addicks will now be aiming to re-establish themselves in the second tier this year, and survival will represent a successful season in that respect.
“After doing that for themselves in the previous campaign, Blackburn’s own aim will now be to build on that, with top half seemingly the minimum expectation, and a push for the play-offs not being ruled out by those around the club.”
Where could this game be won and lost?
“Interestingly, Charlton’s weakest area is Blackburn’s strongest.
“The Addicks are badly short on numbers in midfield, a position where Rovers currently have an embarrassment of riches.
“With Charlton looking stronger at the back, they will be hopeful of overwhelming the lone striker that Rovers often use, meaning that Blackburn midfield will need to create plenty of chances if Tony Mowbray’s side are to get the goals to win the game.
“At the other end of the pitch, Rovers’ defence still looks rather suspect, with Adarabioyo the only addition to a backline that leaked goals on a regular basis last year, something that Lee Bowyer’s side could look to exploit.”
Who will be the key men for either side?
“As ever, Blackburn will be hoping that Bradley Dack is at his talismanic best.
“With Charlton’s defence looking to snuff out Rovers attack, it could fall to Dack to be the man who produces that one moment of magic – be it to score for himself or set one up for someone else – to claim an early three points for Mowbray’s men.
“At the other end, it Lyle Taylor looks to be the most likely man to capitalise on Blackburn’s concerns at the back.
“Having helped fire Charlton to promotion during his debut campaign at the club, Taylor’s height, presence and finishing ability could be crucial to the Addicks on Saturday, as it likely will be throughout the course of the season.”
Finally, a score prediction?
“This looks to be a tight game.
“Neither side currently looks to be the finished product, and both will be desperate to lay an early foundation on which to build going forward in the campaign.
“Even so, I think that Rovers’ extra manpower and ability in midfield could just create the chances to swing the game in their favour, so I’m going for a final score of Blackburn 2-1 Charlton.”