Wycombe Wanderers will start their 2023/24 league One campaign against Exeter City on Saturday at the Adams Park Stadium. Exeter go into the tie as the underdogs but last season they managed to collect four points from their upcoming opponent. Can the Chairboys disrupt Exeter’s recent head to head dominance this weekend?
This time last summer, many fans expected Wycombe to be in and around the playoff spots once again, but it is fair to class the 2022/23 season as a failure which can be summed up by their league position, 9th. Wycombe struggled in front of goal last season and they actually underperformed their XG which clearly indicates the team suffered from inconsistent finishing. Additionally, the top two goal scorers are both no longer at the club, which is a huge concern, especially considering they haven’t reinforced the striker options and last season’s first choice striker (Sam Vokes) scored 6 goals in 35 appearances.
The lack of goals has also been evident in the last two pre-season games, which ended 1-0 and 0-0, yet it does highlight that Wycombe are rather defensively solid like we saw at times last season. Boss, Matt Bloomfield, will be pleased to see how active Wycombe have been in the market, with a few youngsters joining on loan from Premier League sides, as well as some players with League One experience.
Bloomfield will opt for his usual 4-2-3-1 formation and he will expect his side to start quickly in order to set the tone and standards for the new season. Some of the new signings will be given the opportunity to earn a place in the starting XI over the new few weeks if not this weekend, in particular Freddie Potts and Dale Taylor.
After a ten year absence, Exeter City returned to League One last season after gaining automatic promotion from League Two. The Grecians finished in 14th place and they will be hoping to achieve a top half finish in the upcoming season, despite their poor run at the end of the campaign where they went on a 6 game loss streak. The club from Devon were clearly stronger at home and if that trend continues it doesn’t bode well for this weekend’s game. Last campaign, Exeter scored the tenth most goals per game away from home, however they also conceded the fifth most which highlights the need for enhanced defensive security this season.
Attackers Jevani Brown and Jay Stansfield supplied creativity and a goal threat, but they have both departed this summer which means that the attacking responsibility falls to last season’s top scorer, Sam Nombe. Exeter have played plenty of pre-season games in an attempt to improve the fitness levels before round one and Nombe has been able to get on the scoresheet three times, which is promising.
Manager, Gary Caldwell, will stick to his three back system and he will demand that his side frustrates Wycombe like they did last season. The gameplan shouldn’t change from last time out and Exeter will certainly make it a tough contest from minute one.
With Exeter typically struggling away from home and last season’s leaky defence on the road, they will be in for a tough test on Saturday afternoon. Both sides have lost some of their most deadly forwards so it will be interesting to see whether individuals can step up in their absence.
Based on last season and the recent pre-season results, I expect Wycombe to narrowly defeat the Grecians and kickstart their season off with three important points.