Preston North End and West Bromwich Albion enjoyed contrasting fortunes this week – or in the Lilywhites case, endured – ahead of a crucial promotion clash at Deepdale.
Defeat at Derby County last Saturday, midweek humiliation at Hull City; yet somehow Preston’s promotion hopes remain undimmed.
West Bromwich Albion left it late to beat Sheffield Wednesday at the weekend, following that with a 4 – 1 trouncing of Bristol City on Wednesday night.
A win, however, for the home side tonight changes the outlook for both sides. For Albion, defeat loosens their grip on automatic promotion, giving hope to Preston and the chasing pack.
Alex Neil will be desperate for the North End wobble to be steadied. A win over a promotion rival is also worth its’ weight in gold and with the Premier League at stake, that’s a lot of gold.
But Albion are slipping underneath the radar at the top of the table. All eyes are on Elland Road which suits Slaven Bilic down to the ground.
Can they take the three points they need to hold off the Yorkshiremen? It will be tough but definitely on the cards…
Preston North End vs West Bromwich Albion Predictions
Things look a lot brighter for Preston three games ago. A 3 – 1 win over Huddersfield Town saw the Lilywhites go into the international break in second place and daring to dream of a return to the top flight after a 58-year absence.
How quickly things change. Five goals conceded with none scored in reply. Six points tossed into the trash and suddenly the automatic promotion places are that far away.
After a run of one defeat in 12 (W8, D4), successive defeats came as a shock to the system as did failing to score in those two matches. Preston had scored in 12 of the previous 14 and never failed to find the net in consecutive matches.
It’s left Lilywhites boss Alex Neil with a problem to solve and the answers need to come quickly.
The top two are beginning to pull away but Preston find themselves only six points ahead of Cardiff in 11th. Bad results are quickly punished in the Championship.
Preston are, however, a different beast at home. An eleven-match unbeaten run (W8, D3) breeds confidence although the absence of clean sheets – only three in this run, two this season – gives cause for concern.
However, Neil’s team is unbeaten when promotion rivals visit (W1, D2) including the recent 1 – 1 draw with Leeds. The Scot will be urging his squad to draw upon that strength of character this weekend.
Despite being at the top of the table all season, West Brom are almost unsung so far. Newspaper headlines focus on the soap opera at Elland Road while Albion ruthlessly go about their business.
Given that Slaven Bilic was an accomplished centre-back, it’s surprising West Brom don’t have the Championship’s most miserly defence. Instead, they have the most prolific attack, scoring four goals more than Preston’s 31.
Away from home, however, the Baggies are more measured in their approach. Twelve scored, five conceded; four clean sheets in the last five and no home team has scored more than once when Albion are in town. That is the kind of defensive record which wins promotion.
It makes them a tough nut to crack, a point proven given that Leeds are the only team to stop them scoring on West Brom’s travels.
Baggies fans know once West Brom score, they are not going to lose. Ramming in the point home, West Brom have not dropped any points from a winning position in away games.
If Preston are to take anything from this game, a stark turnaround in form is required, as well as puncturing West Brom’s strong self-belief in their defensive quality.
That given this season’s form is unlikely but the Championship is nothing if not unpredictable!
Preston vs West Bromwich Albion Head to Head
In the previous 112 meetings, West Bromwich Albion won 47 times to Preston’s 39 with 26 draws.
The Baggies dominate recent meetings, winning five of the last seven (D1, L1) including last season’s corresponding fixture. That ended 3 – 2 in Albion’s favour after a goalless first half.
By coincidence, the last three meetings between the two sides saw exactly five goals with Albion winning 3 – 2 twice and then 4 – 1 at the Hawthorns in April.
As a historical curio, the teams met on 2nd December 1911, playing out a 1 – 1 draw at Deepdale.
Preston North End Team News
Alex Neil isn’t expecting any good news any time soon on the injury front.
Tom Clarke and Andrew Hughes are sidelined for the foreseeable future, as is Louis Moult. Darnell Fisher and Alan Browne missed the trip to Hull as did Ben Davies. All three face late decisions over their involvement.
West Bromwich Albion Team News
Romaine Sawyers is available once again following suspension but there are no new injury worries currently reported.
Preston North End vs West Bromwich Albion Betting Tips
West Brom’s form gives them the edge in Novibet’s matchday odds which sees them 27/20 favourites. Preston are 39/20 with the draw 49/20.
Recent history suggests five goals as the norm for this match. That being so, Match Total Goals: 4 – 6 at 2/1 holds some appeal, even if it is a little optimistic with West Brom scoring just 12 away goals all season. Unless, of course, the Lilywhites decide to exact a little revenge…
The clash sees two form teams in the first half meet. Preston ‘won’ 27 points at half-time, losing just two of their nine home games (W5, D2). West Brom are unbeaten at the interval in six of their nine away games (W3, D3) in ‘claiming’ 29 points in total. A draw as the Result at Halftime is 21/20.