The first of our 23 previews of each opponent we'll face in the Championship in 2018-19 begins with Aston Villa...
WHAT HAPPENED IN 2017-18?
The 2017-18 campaign ended in disappointment for the Midlands outfit as a goal from former Rover Tom Cairney was enough to take Fulham to the Premier League via the play-offs at Villa's expense. A tricky start to the campaign saw Villa win one of their opening seven games in the league, but they soon picked up and found some consistency. Five consecutive wins at the start of February saw them flirt with the top two in a sequence of results which saw them lose one of their 10 games. But just one win in their next five games - which included three defeats - stopped them in their stride and they had to settle for the play-offs come the end of the regular season. They found a way past Middlesbrough in the play-off semi-finals but suffered an agonising defeat to Fulham in the showcase Final at Wembley.
A BIT ABOUT THE BOSS
A manager with a wealth of experience at Championship level, Steve Bruce has been in charge of Aston Villa since October 2016 after taking over from Roberto Di Matteo. Bruce was previously with Hull City, who he led to the Premier League back in 2016 and in 2013, too. He was also an FA Cup runner-up during his four years with the Tigers. He has also managed the likes of Wigan, Sunderland and Birmingham City, where he won two promotions to the Premier League, Crystal Palace, Huddersfield and Sheffield United. As a player, Bruce started out at Gillingham, appearing over 200 times before making the move to Norwich City. He impressed greatly in Norfolk and after three years at Carrow Road, Sir Alex Ferguson took the defender to Manchester United. It was to prove a shrewd bit of business, with Bruce at Old Trafford for almost 10 years and during that time he won three Premier League trophies and three FA Cups, amongst other honours. Bruce departed in 1996 for Birmingham before ending his playing days at Sheffield United in 1999.
WHAT'S THE GROUND LIKE?
Aston Villa's home since 1897, the club have had no other ground, with Villa Park steeped in history. Able to house over 40,000 spectators, the stadium has hosted a number of international games, including three in the 1966 World Cup and also a number in Euro 96. Villa Park was one of the regular used grounds for FA Cup semi-finals and was also the scene of Ryan Giggs' wonder goal against Arsenal in the competition back in 1999.
THE LAST TIME WE LOCKED HORNS
A solitary Danny Graham goal was enough for Rovers to take the points in April 2017 as the striker's second half goal proved the difference in a 1-0 Rovers win at Ewood Park.
WHO'S PLAYED FOR BOTH?
Chris Samba is a current Villa player who of course spent five years at Ewood Park between 2007 and 2012. Current Rover Derrick Williams is an ex-Villa man, as is the recently retired Stephen Warnock. Simon Grayson is another to have represented both teams.
Villa have royalty backing them in the form of Prince William, who goes to games as often as he can. David Cameron is also a fan, with his uncle Sir William Dugdale formerly chairman of the club. Another to wear the claret and blue is Hollywood actor Tom Hanks, whilst you may well catch a glimpse of Ozzy Osbourne singing in the Holte End next season - the Black Sabbath singer is also a Villa supporter.