With many of the European leagues starting up this month, I thought I would take a quick look at the players starting their seasons this weekend.
French Ligue 1
Two Americans will be starting the season in France on Saturday. Carlos Bocanegra should be making his debut at Saint-Étienne as they travel to Paris to take on Paris Saint-Germain.
Saint-Étienne finished in 17th place last season, one spot away from relegation, and Bocanegra is expected to start at left back. While he will attempt to bolster the defense, Saint-Étienne scored only 27 goals last year, the fewest in Ligue 1.
Charlie Davies and Sochaux host newly promoted AC Arles-Avignon on Saturday. Davies will be looking to play his first real game since last October, but Sochaux coach Francis Gillot has recently come out to the media saying Davies is not fully ready yet.
English League Championship
Norwich City is back in the League Championship (now sponsored by Npower, no longer Coca-Cola) and center back Zak Whitbread is hoping for a healthy season after appearing in only four games last year after making the transfer from Millwall to the Canaries.
Norwich City kicks off the season by hosting Jay DeMerit’s former club, Watford, on Friday. While Whitbread is a front runner for one of the starting spots in the back, Whitbread is questionable for Friday’s game after picking up an injury in a recent friendly.
Leeds United are back in the Championship after finishing second in League One behind Norwich City in 2009-10. Leeds open the season at home against Derby County on Saturday and Mike Grella is battling for playing time up top with the departure of Jermaine Beckford to Everton.
As we posted the other day, Grella would like to see the field more often this season after appearing in 18 league games last season, but only cracking the starting eleven three times. He is even willing to go out on loan to another Championship or League One side if necessary.
English League One
After five seasons at Sheffield Wednesday, Frank Simek made the switch to Carlisle United this summer. Simek will be looking to join the starting eleven on Saturday as Carlisle United hosts Brentford.
Carlisle United finished middle of the pack last year, but made the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final, losing to Southampton at the new Wembley Stadium.
After playing much of last season with Everton’s reserves, Anton Peterlin signed with Plymouth Argyle this summer. The Pilgrims open the season on Saturday at Southampton and Peterlin could be featured in the starting eleven at central midfield.
English League Two
Wycombe Wanderers will be looking to get back into League One after getting relegated last season and their first game will be at home against Morecambe. Jon-Paul Pittman is probably hoping to continue his preseason scoring tear (seven goals so far, including three against a Chelsea reserve squad last week) into the regular season.
Also in League Two, Seb Harris and Northampton Town travel to Plainmoor Ground to take on Torquay United on Saturday. The young American striker is hoping to build on last season’s rookie campaign, which saw him play in nine games, including a goal against Cheltenham Town back in February.