Posh to slip up at Kenilworth Road
Luton 2.285/4 v Peterborough 3.412/5; The Draw 3.711/4
Luton were one of the busiest clubs in the Championship this summer and have completed a number of potentially interesting deals ahead of the new campaign. Although it remains to be seen whether veteran striker Cameron Jerome can still operate effectively in the second tier, the arrivals of livewire Carlos Mendes Gomes, Allan Campbell, Henri Lansbury and Admiral Muskwe should make the Hatters' squad significantly stronger this season. Despite the loss of goalscorer James Collins, the Bedfordshire club are expected to have a decent campaign and manager Nathan Jones will be looking to build upon last year's 12th place finish.
Jones' teams tend to embody their coach and they are full of energy and determination. They traditionally make a fast start to the campaign and having won nine of their last 13 opening day fixtures, they will be expected to take three points against newly promoted Peterborough United. Posh are playing at this level for the first time in almost a decade and Darren Ferguson's men are likely to be competitive, however, it may take them a couple of weeks to find their feet in the Championship.
With several of their signings have arrived from League One and Two, the visitors may need time to acclimatise. As a result, it makes sense to back Luton at 2.285/4 to start the season with a home success. They dropped far too many points here last season, but their significantly bolstered squad and the returning supporters should give them an extra edge.
Blackburn and Swansea to share the points in Lancashire
Blackburn 2.26/5 v Swansea 3.711/4; The Draw 3.412/5
Blackburn ended the 2020-21 campaign with three convincing home wins, and were defeated in just one of their last six Championship matches. However, positivity has been in short supply around Ewood Park this summer, despite the international exploits of Ben Brereton. Tony Mowbray has not escaped criticism from the supporters with the Teessider's lack of plan B causing plenty of consternation amongst the fanbase. Adam Armstrong may be on his way out with interest from Southampton. Despite this, there are also several talented young players who will be hoping to impress the returning fans.
Rovers possess a poor opening day record and it's a decade since they last picked up maximum points in the curtain raiser. Nevertheless, Swansea don't tend to enjoy visiting this ground and the Welsh club have failed to win 19 of their last 20 visits to Ewood Park. Russell Martin has succeeded Steve Cooper, however, the former defender has had very little time to get his feet under the table and avoiding yet another defeat here could be chalked up as a success for the 35-year old. It's worth backing these two teams to share the spoils at 3.412/5
Seasiders to prove stubborn opposition at Ashton Gate
Bristol City 2.3211/8 v Blackpool 3.55/2; The Draw 3.45
Bristol City ended last season with just a single victory from their last 13 Championship fixtures. The optimism surrounding the appointment of Nigel Pearson had started to dwindle and a much-needed major summer refresh has taken place over the last couple of months. Despite this, there have been just three additions to the squad with defender Rob Atkinson and experienced midfielder Andy King both arriving at Ashton Gate. Pearson has spoken about needing at least 'two or three transfer windows' to put his stamp on this side, and as a result, they may not be able to hit the ground running here.
Blackpool are back in the second tier and manager Neil Critchley should be commended for guiding the unfancied Seasiders to promotion despite getting off to a shaky start last season. He is overseeing a transition to a more possession-based style of football and that may take a couple of weeks to come to fruition. Despite this shift, the Tangerines are extremely tough to beat and they will not panic if they fall behind in this fixture. Back Blackpool Draw No Bet at 2.255/4 on the Sportsbook.
Bluebirds to edge out the Tykes
Cardiff 2.3411/8 v Barnsley 3.55/2; The Draw 3.39/4
Mick McCarthy is extremely proud of his roots and he rarely misses an opportunity to reference his home town of Barnsley. However, he is unlikely to give them an easy ride in this opening day fixture. Cardiff have an excellent record against South Yorkshire-based opposition and they've lost just one of their last 14 games against the Tykes. They've made some sensible additions this summer with the likes of James Collins, Mark McGuinness and Ryan Giles all arriving at the Cardiff City Stadium and they will be expected to get off to a winning start in front of the home supporters.
Barnsley have appointed Markus Schopp and fans will be hoping that he can build on the excellent foundations that have been put in place by the outgoing Valerien Ismael. The club have a system in place to help the new head coach succeed and arrival of Josh Benson will certainly help to offset the loss of key midfielder Alex Mowatt. However, Cardiff may prove a little too streetwise and the hosts look tempting at 2.3411/8.
Low-scoring affair at Pride Park
Derby 54/1 v Huddersfield 1.814/5; The Draw 3.814/5
Derby's problems have been well-documented this summer and the Rams look set to go into this weekend's fixture with a worringly depleted squad. They still have a handful of players who are capable of causing problems and although they have been priced up as outsiders for this fixture, they should remain competitive throughout the 90 minutes. The lack of defenders is particularly troubling, however, Wayne Rooney's side were fairly effective at shutting down the opposition last season and they could take a safety-first approach to this game.
With their problems continuing to mount up, Derby could not have asked for a kinder opening day fixture. Huddersfield have won just three times since the beginning of 2021 and they averaged just 1.09 goals per game last season. They've signed multiple defenders this summer, however, they still look woefully short going forward and they are unlikely to hit the hosts for five or six this weekend. This could be a slow-burner and although the Terriers are expected to collect three points, backing Under 2.5 Goals on the Exchange at 1.768/11 could prove to be a better option.
Defenders to dominate at Deepdale
Preston 2.427/5 v Hull 3.259/4; The Draw 3.45
Preston's opening fixtures have rarely deliver on entertainment in recent years with each of the last five finishing 1-0. PNE have been on the right side of just two of those encounters, although they will be feeling confident of picking up another narrow success this weekend. Under rookie coach Frankie McAvoy, they've been significantly better at the back and have managed to keep clean sheets in four of their last five fixtures. They lack some penetration in the final third, however, their summer additions would suggest that they will be extremely tough to beat this year.
Hull have been defeated in 22 of their last 29 visits to this ground and although this isn't the toughest opening day fixture, they could struggle to find a way through. Grant McCann's side should have enough talent in their squad to survive this season, however, they may become frustrated by the lack of space in the final third here. Under 2.5 Goals at 1.84/5 on the Exchange looks likely.
QPR and Millwall to cancel one another out
QPR 2.111/10 v Millwall 3.814/5; The Draw 3.3512/5
QPR have enjoyed a fruitful 2021 and only promoted pair Norwich and Watford picked up more points during the second half of the campaign. The West Londoners have recruited sensibly and they've made the majority of their loan acquisitions permanent. The arrival of Andre Dozzell and Moses Odubajo will also give them something a little different this season. Mark Warburton's side should be able to carry on where they left off, and they will be buoyed by the fact they have an excellent record against Millwall.
The Lions enjoyed another solid campaign under Gary Rowett and they will be hoping to gatecrash the play-offs this time around. They've re-signed George Saville and the arrival of Benik Afobe is an interesting one. They desperately need an injection of firepower and cannot simply rely on creator-in-chief Jed Wallace to produce moments of magic on a weekly basis. However, they rarely go down without a fight and the arrival of Dan Ballard should make them even tougher to breach. This match could easily finish all-square, so back the draw at 3.3512/5.
Potters to edge out the Royals
Stoke 2.186/5 v Reading 4.03/1; The Draw 3.3512/5
It's the first time since their relegation that Stoke haven't been priced up as one of the promotion favourites and the Potters are likely to benefit from the lack of expectation this season. Michael O'Neill has been slowly chipping away at the bloated playing squad and gradually evolving the culture at the club. Although energetic striker Tyrese Campbell is unlikely to be back until at least September, the arrivals of Sam Surridge and Mario Vrancic will offer them something different. Ben Wilmot appears to be a savvy signing and should replace the departed Nathan Collins. Stoke's home form was solid enough last season and they will be expected to start with three points.
Reading's squad is starting to look a little threadbare. They still have a decent XI, and possess numerous match-winners, however, the transfer embargo has hit them hard. Veljko Paunovic's second season in charge could be tough and they will be hoping that the likes of John Swift and Lucas Joao can remain largely injury-free this year. The Royals haven't won an away game since the end of February and are unlikely to end that barren run this weekend. Stoke can be backed at 2.186/5.
You can follow Jack Critchley on Twitter @jcritch7