Cambridge United hosts Oxford United at the Abbey Stadium this Saturday in their first game of the 2023/24 League One season. Both Cambridge and Oxford suffered a tough 2022/23 season in the league, sitting dangerously close to the relegation zone, so a strong start to the season will be crucial for both sides.
Cambridge finished last season 20th in League One, a nervous two points above Morecambe in the final relegation spot. Mark Bonner’s side won just 13 of their 46 games, drawing seven and losing 26, the second most losses in the league behind bottom of the table Forest Green.
Therefore, Cambridge’s first plan of action this summer was to get some new blood. Some of their signings include Sullay Kaikai from MK Dons and Crystal Palace’s youth academy and Jordan Cousins from Wigan Athletic, both on a free transfer.
Cambridge have played five games in their summer preseason programme, three of which they came out with a win in. The other games ended in one draw and one loss. The three wins came against St Albans City, where Cambridge won 3 - 1, Ipswich where they won 2 - 1 and a 4 - 0 thrashing against Gillingham. The draw was a 1 - 1 draw against Cardiff and their loss came most recently, a 2 - 0 loss to Barnet.
Oxford did not fare too much better than their Saturday afternoon opponents last season, only managing a 19th place finish in League One. Liam Manning’s side grabbed 11 wins, 14 draws and 21 losses, leaving them with 47 points. This left Oxford three points above relegation and a worrying 30 points off of the Play-off places.
Some of the signings made by Oxford so far this summer include: a loan move for Everton U21’s Stanley Mills, Mark Harris on a free transfer from Cardiff City, Jordan Thorniley from Blackpool on a free transfer and Josh McEachran on a free transfer from MK Dons.
Oxford had a mixed bag of their preseason, with three wins, a draw and a loss. Preseason started slowly for Oxford with a 0 - 0 draw against Eastleigh, but they immediately followed it up with a 5 - 1 win over Barnet the very next day. A 1 - 0 win over Swansea was quickly followed by a 4 - 1 thrashing at the hands of Bristol City. Their final game came against QPR who Oxford were able to dominate with a 5 - 0 win.
Cambridge United and Oxford United have historically only met 30 times in their histories with only a narrow advantage in Oxford’s favour. Oxford have won this fixture 12 times, their first win coming back in 1976 in the League Cup. Cambridge, on the other hand, have nine wins in the fixture, with the nine remaining meetings ending in draws.
In the last five games between the two clubs, Oxford have won twice, Cambridge have won twice and there has been one draw. The two teams are evenly matched, so a tightly contested game is a likely occurrence, with it likely coming to a one goal game.