The wait for football is finally over as Blackburn Rovers host Queens Park Rangers at Ewood Park this Saturday to kick off their 2022/23 EFL Championship campaign.
Rovers are coming into the game on the back of an okay pre-season, winning three and drawing two games from six, with the only loss coming against Accrington Stanley in a 60-minute match.
Rovers have looked both solid and sloppy across the six games played in pre-season however, it is hard to make any judgement on the squad yet as it is pre-season replacements still need to be made for key players lost last season.
The most exciting players have been the academy graduates especially highly rated prospect Ash Phillips looking like a solid defender in every game he’s played, and Wales U21 striker Jack Vale also impressing, putting a good performance in against Scottish Champions Celtic and finding the net against Accrington and Hartlepool.
Defensively Rovers have looked sloppy at times, however it is a position that is yet to be reinforced after key defensive departures this summer.
It will be the first time since February 2017 that Tony Mowbray won’t be in the dugout at Ewood Park with Jon Dahl Thomasson being named Head Coach for this upcoming season. It is unknown how Rovers will start out under JDT, with the squad needing to adapt to his ideas and positions still needing to be strengthened.
Callum Brittain from Barnsley is the only addition made to Rovers squad so far, replacing Ryan Nyambe in the right back slot, he is expected to feature on Saturday after impressing in his first game against Lincoln. Despite the squad still needing additions, Rovers still have a strong 11 ready to be put out against QPR. Key Player Ben Brereton Diaz is expected to start, and Bradley Dack could feature in some capacity depending on fitness. Certain academy graduates could also play a part with a chance to impress Thomasson in the opening game of the season.
It is likely that Rovers will play in a 4-2-3-1 formation for this fixture as its what's been done for the majority of pre-season, however it is unknown whether this will be the shape that JDT will want to play in the future after he adds to the squad.
QPR also enter the opening game with a brand-new manager with former Aston Villa assistant manager Michael Beale being appointed boss replacing Mark Warburton in The R’s hotseat.
QPR’s pre-season form has been identical to Rovers winning 3 games and drawing 2, with one loss coming against Crystal Palace last week.
The R’s have currently made 4 signings this summer, two of them being permanent signings as Kenneth Paal joined the club from Dutch side PEC Zwolle, and centre back Jake Clarke-Salter comes in from Chelsea after an impressive spell on loan at Coventry last season. The other two signings came in on loan, with Tyler Roberts joining for the season from Leeds and Blackburn target Taylor Richards also opting to join QPR for the season despite interest from Rovers.
Match Prediction: It is a tough fixture to predict as both managers will want to get off to a winning start at their new clubs. QPR have currently done better business in the transfer window, however Rovers have the opening day home advantage. I am going to go with a 1-1 draw with Brereton Diaz being the scorer for Rovers.