Preston and Blackburn go head-to-head at Deepdale on Saturday for what is sure to be another interesting game between the two sides. It’s been a tale of two different starts for the clubs during the season so far, with PNE flying high and sat nicely in a play-off berth, while Blackburn and Tony Mowbray are currently in 16thplace having not won a game in five.
The Lilywhites and Blackburn tend to put on entertaining fixtures, although Rovers fans wouldn’t quite agree with that based on the last few scorelines. The game at Deepdale last season between the two clubs ended in an emphatic 4-1 victory for the home side and even the away fixture between them last season ended in a 1-0 win for Preston, despite Darnell Fisher being sent off in that game.
Alex Neil’s side will be hoping to maintain their excellent record at home so far this season against Rovers. North End have yet to lose a game in the league at Deepdale, winning five games and drawing two. It’s the kind of form that will make Blackburn not fancy their trip to Preston, especially with Rovers picking up just six points on the road so far this campaign.
Three points for Preston could ultimately send the club into the top two in the league based on how the other results play out, meaning that this game has extra incentive for PNE. If Blackburn were to claim the win, it’d also aid them in their bid to move further away from relegation, as the three points here could send them closer to the top half of the league.
Team News/Key Players
For Preston, the only real change in team news comes in the form of Josh Harrop. The midfielder remains injured but it has now been revealed that he could be out for a few weeks with a hamstring injury. It means he won’t have any part to play in the game against Rovers but winger Billy Bodin could return to the side after recovering from his injury.
Louis Moult is, of course, out for the season with an ACL injury and therefore won’t feature and Tom Clarke is another who remains on the sidelines. Apart from that, the side which played out the 1-1 draw against Leeds remains healthy and it means that Alex Neil has plenty of players to choose from with his team selection.
As for Blackburn, there won’t be a return to Deepdale for Greg Cunningham. The former PNE left-back signed for Rovers in the summer but could be out for the season with a torn ACL injury and therefore won’t be able to feature. Sam Hart and Darragh Lenihan also remain out injured for Tony Mowbray’s side but the good news for them is that Lewis Amari’i Bell could both return to the side for the game.
However, two of the club’s forwards in Ben Brereton and Dominic Samuel shall both remain out and on the sidelines for Blackburn and Lewis Holtby will unfortunately miss the game too with a hamstring injury.
In his current form, Tom Barkhuizen could be the most important player for Preston. The forward scored a goal against Leeds and bagged a goal and an assist in PNE’s victory in the league against Barnsley and he’ll need to ensure he keeps that good run of form going. With Louis Moult injured, Sean Maguire spending a lot of time on the wing, David Nugent yet to find the net since his signing and Jayden Stockley left out of the squad, it means that someone needs to be able to provide that clinical touch. It’s fallen to DJ to score most of the club’s goals so far this season but he can’t be expected to do that every week from the CAM position and with Barkhuizen back to firing (and with his rapid pace, which hasn’t slowed) the 26-year old could be the key player against Blackburn.
For Blackburn, the key player could be Derrick Williams. The Irishman has been one of the most solid players for his team so far this season and he might need to be in that kind of form again to ensure that Blackburn take some points against Preston. Bradley Dack is the easy option to choose for Rovers as the most important player with his multitude of goals and assists. The man who could play the most important role though is Williams. If he can put in the tackles and keep Preston out at the back, it could go a long way to ensuring that Rovers take points back home with them from the game.
In the league, Preston haven’t lost in their last five games against Blackburn, both home and away. The Lilywhites’ last two home games against Rovers have actually both ended in wins, one being the 4-1 thumping against Rovers that was already mentioned.
In fact, the last five games at Deepdale between the two sides have contained over 2.5 goals, meaning a goalfest could be on the cards today. Finally, Blackburn have been losing at half-time AND full-time in five of their last seven away games in the Championship. They’ll hope to stop that run this weekend, especially against Preston at their home stadium.
Kick-Off – Saturday, 26th October at 3pm.
Match Official – Steve Martin