Two of English football’s oldest and most venerable names meet at Deepdale: Preston North End entertain Stoke City.
They also happen to be two of the Championship’s out-of-form teams, mustering one win between them in their combined six games. Promotion hopefuls, they are not.
Not yet, anyway. Everyone knows this is the division where nothing is impossible until the maths tells you otherwise. Bottom at Christmas, promoted by Easter? It could happen.
Our Preston vs Stoke City predictions aren’t looking that far ahead; we’re only concerned with this week’s 90 minutes. And a tough call it is too. Relegation form has a habit of throwing out surprises; is this one of them?
If you are wondering how this season will turn out, or at least how we see it, check out our Complete Championship 2019/20 preview, predictions and betting tips for our views on tonight’s protagonists.
Preston vs Stoke City Predictions
Where to begin with these tales of woe? At the beginning is as good a place as any.
While Preston were fed to the Lions in a 1 – 0 defeat at Millwall on the opening day, Stoke City stumbled around at home to Queen’s Park Rangers, losing 2 – 1 with the consolation only of a Sam Clucas goal.
For the Lilywhites, it’s threatening to get better. Wigan were humbled in the first home game of the season with Deepdale bristling with a feelgood factor following the 4 – 0 thumping of Bradford City in the Carabao Cup.
A fly in the ointment last weekend at Swansea City, however. Pegged back as the half-time whistle blew after taking an early lead, Preston traded goals with the Welsh club in a mad six-minute second-half spell.
Losing 3 – 2 away from home is no disgrace, just a disappointment after a corner appeared to be turned.
It does mean, however, that the Lilywhites have just two clean sheets in the last ten Championship matches. That is the concern for them and underlines why a mid-table finish is probably the best they can hope for.
Last season’s 14th place feels like it’s about to be repeated; a footballing Groundhog Day, if you like.
It doesn’t help our Preston vs Stoke City predictions though.
Nor does Stoke’s form. Defeats against Charlton Athletic and QPR were followed by the home draw against Derby County at the weekend.
The Potters dreams of a swift return to the Premier League quickly evaporated when it wasn’t until the fifth game that they recorded their first league win of the season. They are headed down that path again.
Five goalless draws in their last ten games in 2018/19 underlined a problem facing Nathan Jones side. If you don’t score many and cannot keep clean sheets, that spells trouble with a capital R for relegation.
While it is too soon to condemn one of England’s oldest clubs to that doom, it is a spectre which haunts them. City have four goals in their three games, with two coming against Derby.
Summer signing Scott Hogan is on the goal trail with a brace in Saturday’s 2 – 2 draw. Now the weight of awaiting his first goal of the season and for his new club is lifted off his shoulders, will he fire on all cylinders.
Taking a point against promotion favourites is a good result. However, conceding at least two goals in every league game is a bigger problem.
In a perverse way, it makes the denizens of the Potteries almost pray for a return of the run of five goalless draws in the final ten games of last season. Anything to steady the ship.
Preston vs Stoke City Head to Head
Preston are top dogs in this clash, leading the head-to-head with 46 wins to 35 and 22 drawn.
Stoke have won just two of the last 12 (D5, L5), conceding two goals or more in three of their last four visits to Deepdale.
Last season saw Preston claim four of the six points with a 2 – 2 draw at home almost exactly a year ago, followed by a 2 – 0 win at Stoke.
This is the eighth meeting in August between the two sides and Preston fare better win four of the seven previous games (D1, L2). Indeed, the Lilywhites are unbeaten in the last five (W4, D1).
Preston North EndTeam News
Louis Moult suffered a serious injury at Swansea and is out for this clash.
Brighter news for Alex Neill comes with Andrew Hughes showing no reaction to the long trip to South Wales. That said, he undergoes a late fitness test to ensure he is ready to return.
Stoke City Team News
No fresh injury worries for Nathan Jones. However, at his pre-match press conference, he made it clear the squad would be rotated as they face four games in ten days.
Expect changes to Saturday’s XI with Peter Etobo’s recall one of the changes touted.
Preston vs Stoke City Betting Tips
With the Potters stuck firmly to the bottom of the Championship table, it’s a surprise to see them quoted as short as 2/1 with Novibet.
The home side are naturally favourites given their relatively lofty league position, 7/5 Novibet’s shout, with the draw at 11/5.
Given both sides defensive issues we’ve highlighted in our Preston vs Stoke City predictions, we fancy a hatful of goals. Over 3.5 goals at 27/10 is enticing.