Here's a look at some Championship players that could be scoring on the opening day
The countdown is well and truly on for the start of the Championship season with things restarting in just two weeks. Pre-season preparations are progressing as teams get themselves match fit and mentally prepared for the challenges that lay ahead. In a recent article, I discussed some of the teams that may well make a slow start to the season.
In this article, I will not be looking at teams that are going to make an instant impact on the league – but instead on those players that may well be goalscoring heroes on the opening day. I’ll freely admit that what happened last season has a major bearing on this content. So, I’m quite prepared to be told that I have neglected players that are new to the league – but I don’t have the means to judge them in Championship terms.
So, now we have that out of the way – let’s get stuck into the content…
1. Chris Wood (Leeds United)
I’m not expecting that Leeds United will be able to live up to what they did last season – and a play-off challenge looks unlikely. However, it’s difficult to deny that there is some real quality in the squad that will need to be at their best if Leeds do have a decent season.
Chris Wood is an exceptional striker, at this level, and he is included in another one of my articles detailing the best goalscorers in the league. Last season, he was superb by scoring 27 goals, which was a 45% contribution to Leeds’ total goal haul.
Of course, there has been a fair bit of speculation around the place regarding Wood’s future. However, the 25-year-old Kiwi is still at the club and only a massive transfer bid will drag him away. Given all the positive attributes he has, it would take a brave punter to bet against him being amongst the goalscorers on the opening day.
2. Jonathan Kodjia (Aston Villa)
Aston Villa may have taken their time to adjust to life in the Championship, but I now think they are ready to take the league by storm. In fact, in one of my recent articles, I am tipping Villa to be the league champions at the end of the season.
However, in order to have a successful season, it’s vital that all of their big players turn up and perform to the best of their ability. Jonathan Kodjia is certainly not Villa’s only attacking option and you’d expect them to mix things up throughout the season. However, of the strikers that they do have; he is one that is most likely to get a goal.
Of course, he showed plenty of that last season with 19 Championship goals, which was a 40% contribution to his team’s total goals. Strikers love to hit the ground running at the start of the season, and the more games that go on without scoring, the more that pressure will build. Given the quality that Kodjia has, it’s a fair bet that he will be amongst the opening day scorers.
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3. Yann Kermorgant (Reading)
Regular readers of mine will know that I’m not expecting any great shakes from Reading for the coming season, despite the positive things they created last season. In fact, they are included as one of the teams that I expect to the start season slowly. One of the major reasons that they may struggle to live up to what they did last season is the fact they did rely on several ageing players.
One of those players that did exceptionally well last season was French striker Yann Kermorgant. The 35-year-old will want to repeat what he did last when he scored 19 goals, making a 27% contribution to his club’s total goals. There is no doubt that the goals were vital for Reading, but Kermogant also managed an unbelievable level of consistency with an average rating of 7.43.
Although, the Royals may not be making a strong start to the campaign. It’s certain that the French forward will want to hit the ground running. There is no doubt that his age will be called into question if he doesn’t do that – so there is an extra bit of motivation for him. Overall, don’t be surprised to see Kermorgant’s name amongst the goalscorers on the opening day of the season.
4. Cameron Jerome (Norwich City)
Cameron Jerome is another one of those veteran players in the league and is underrated by many people in the football world. Part of the reason behind this is because he has failed at Premier League level on several occasions – but when you are looking at the Championship, then Jerome is just what you need.
Norwich City are going through transitional phase at the moment and there is a significant focus on developing a younger squad and cutting the wage bill. It’s no great secret that Jerome is both an experienced player and one on a high salary, so he could be a candidate for the chop at Norwich. In fact, that very well may happen if the club were to receive a decent offer for the player.
However, at the time of writing, Jerome is still a vital put of things. In terms of last season, he contributed 16 goals, which was a 20% contribution to Norwich’s total goal haul. The player is aware that he isn’t the most technically gifted, but if you are looking for a battling striker that gets goals – then there aren’t many better options. Everything considered it would be a clever idea to take a punt on this striker being on the scoresheet on the opening day of the season.
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5. Lasse Vibe (Brentford)
I know some people may look at this latest entry and feel it is a strange choice. However, regular readers of mine will know that I have good things to say about Brentford for the coming season. There is no doubt that they have a good squad with some seriously exciting young talent. In fact, I’m tipping them to be a team to sizzle in the coming season.
It’s important to remember though that the Bees aren’t solely reliant on their young talent, and they also have some older players that can make huge contributions. One of those is the 30-year-old Danish star Lasse Vibe. The player is also extremely versatile with the ability to play either as a winger or forward.
In terms of those contributions from last season, Vibe managed 15 goals, seven assists and an average rating of 6.95. Therefore, he is making a significant difference in those crucial areas. Looking at these stats, it’s not hard to see why he makes this list of potential goalscorers on opening day.
6. Britt Assombalonga (Middlesbrough)
I have mentioned Britt Assombalonga as a potential Premier League target in a previous article. In the end, it was a fellow Championship club that took the striker off the hands of Nottingham Forest. Middlesbrough should have a good season and I’m expecting to see them in the top six with the excellent Garry Monk in charge.
Looking back at Middlesbrough last season they certainly gave staying in the Premier League a good go. However, they were let down by simply not having enough goals in the team. Different things can be said about that under previous managers. But it was vital that Monk added firepower to his side this summer.
On paper, the signing of Assombalonga is a great piece of business. The only thing to be slightly concerned about is his injury record. When fit, he is simply one of the best strikers in the Championship and has the ability to fire Boro back to the Premier League. In terms of those stats from last season, the striker only started 20 games – but managed an impressive 14 goals despite his lack of starts. Assombalonga will certainly want to hit the ground running with his new club – so expect to see him as an opening day goalscorer.
This completes the content section, for this article, on opening day goalscorers. So, do you think anyone else could be a hero when the season starts? Or perhaps you feel that none of these players will be scoring!
In any case, hopefully, you are enjoying reading my content covering the Championship. There will be a sister piece to this article coming next covering those players that might get sent off on the opening day. As always, remember to keep an eye on my profile page for the latest updates from me.