The 2023/24 Football League is back on Friday, and Sheffield Wednesday’s Championship encounter with Southampton will get us underway in what promises to be another thrilling campaign.
Some of England’s biggest clubs will compete in the second tier this season, including both teams that play on Friday night.
Sheffield Wednesday earned promotion via the play-offs in League One, while Southampton dropped down from the Premier League.
Both clubs are under new management, and Friday’s encounter could give us a taste of what is to come from both clubs.
When Sheffield Wednesday earned promotion to the second tier, their fans were no doubt dreaming about what they could do under Darren Moore. Fast forward a few months, and the former Doncaster Rovers boss is out of the door, and Xisco Munoz will now guide the Owls in the Championship.
Fans are rightly worried about what the future holds at Hillsborough under the Spanish coach.
Summer signings Di’Shon Bernard, Bambo Diaby, Pol Valentin, Juan Delgado and Ashley Fletcher are all set to make their debuts for the club, but with so many new faces, it is unclear if the Owls have a squad capable of handling the step up.
In the opposite dugout, former Swansea City coach Russell Martin has been given the job of trying to get Southampton back to the promised land.
Although James Ward-Prowse has been linked with a move away, along with Nathan Tella and Romeo Lavia, all three players are still on their books going into the big kick-off.
Even though Tino Livramento is joining Newcastle, Martin has inherited a competitive Championship squad, and he has strengthened it by signing Ryan Manning and Shea Charles.
Southampton will be expected to play an exciting brand of football under Martin, and he had Swansea pushing towards the play-offs last season before a lack of strength in depth let him down.
Munoz is no stranger to this level, and he will no doubt be setting his team up with a defensive mindset, and a positive result against Southampton would go down well.
While Southampton may take their time to click, they are too good to turn down in the match result market.
The Saints still have some quality operators throughout their squad, and if Ward-Prowse stays put, they will have by far the best set-piece taker in the Championship.
On Friday, the England international will look to lay down a marker for his club, and it would be a shock to see Sheffield Wednesday pick up anything from the contest.
Southampton to beat Sheffield Wednesday @ 13/10