Blackburn vs Preston | Friday 12th February 2021, 19:45 | Sky Sports
We have a Lancashire derby on our hands this Friday night in front of the Sky cameras as Blackburn welcome rivals Preston to Ewood Park.
Both head into this contest situated in the top half of the Sky Bet Championship and separated by just three points. Tony Mowbray and Alex Neil will be eager to claim maximum points to prevent the gap to the play-off positions getting any larger before the rest of the league appears over the weekend.
The history books could potentially favour Neil’s men given North End are unbeaten in their last four visits to this stadium, including two victories. That being said, consistency is not something we generally associate with Preston. Just looking at their away form alone, of their last 14 on the road in all competitions, they have won seven and lost seven.
Even including their home form, they’ve just three Championship draws all season, which indicates they are very much an all-or-nothing type of outfit. That’ll work some weeks, but not others, so it is not shock to see them in mid-table.
Blackburn have been a little hit-or-miss themselves of late, and that is why they too find themselves outside the play-off equation at this moment in time. They went into December in excellent form after earning 11 points in November alone, but since then they’ve won only four further league contests, including back-to-back triumphs over Middlesbrough and Luton last month.
Whilst Rovers have been amongst the goals this season, eight of their previous nine overall have featured under 2.5 goals. However, seven of the last nine head-to-head renewals featured three goals or more, including four featuring 4+, so goals are normally involved when these two collide.
One factor we do really have to consider when trying to identify betting opportunities in this game is the state of the Ewood Park pitch. Only a few weeks ago the club groundsman issued a statement when only a third home game in the last 15 years was postponed due to the weather.
The recent snow won’t have helped those issues which initially arose because of heavy rain, and the club plan on rectifying this issue in the summer. Until then, it is what it is, so this local derby could be scrappy in more than one sense.
I must admit, I am finding this a hard game to judge given how you really don’t know what you’re going to get from either of these teams. Preston may have won once in seven in all competitions, including five defeats, but you can’t completely rule them out claiming all three points. They’ve won away versus the likes of Brentford, Reading and Bournemouth this season, whilst also drawing to Norwich at Carrow Road.
Blackburn’s issues generally come against the top teams in the league, and all of their home wins have come against all but one bottom half opponent.
Blackburn are one of the highest ranked teams in the league in relation to shots on goal, which is no shock given they’re one of the highest scorers. Preston are towards the end of the attempts spectrum, so that alone would suggest Daniel Iversen should be the busier of the two goalkeepers.
But, as I have mentioned, these are two inconsistent teams, so I personally wouldn’t over examine the facts and figures about this one, and just go with your gut.
After losing to QPR last time out, I expect Bradley Dack to be thrown into the starting eleven. They look a much more polished outfit whenever he plays and he has looked sharp in his appearances since a long-term layoff. I’ll chance the 3/1 (Betway) on offer for him to score anytime. If he starts, that price will likely drop.
Also, set pieces will be important in this one with the pitch not in the best shape. Expect to see plenty of shirt tugging in the pitch between these two physical outfits, so I’ll throw a tentative dart at Penalty In Match at 11/4 (Bet365).
Finally, I still believe this will be an end-to-end battle between two teams trying to win. Whilst we can never be assured of end product, I’d like to think both will create good opportunities in this one. Therefore, the 10/11 (William Hill) available on A Goal in Both Halves caught the eye.
Finally, this is a derby game after all and so naturally I look towards the card markets. Now Ben Pearson is with Bournemouth these days, we can’t look towards him to be booked in a Preston game anymore! We could say the same about Darnell Fisher, now at Middlesbrough.
Ryan Ledson now has the ‘Pearson role’ under Neil at present, so I’ll chance him To Be Shown A Card at 7/2 (Bet365). He isn’t quite as prolific in the referee’s notebook, but he has been cautioned in two of the last four games in which he’s completed 90 minutes. I fancy Neil to keep him on for the entirety here given it is likely to be a scrappy affair.
Blackburn v Preston – Bradley Dack Anytime Scorer (3/1 Betway)
Blackburn v Preston – Penalty In Match (11/4 Bet365)
Blackburn v Preston – A Goal in Both Halves (10/11 William Hill)
Blackburn v Preston – Ryan Ledson To Be Shown A Card (7/2 Bet365)