Preston v Derby | Friday 1st February 2019, 19:45 | Sky Sports
This should be a good watch on Friday night.
Preston are very much within those bracket of clubs who will harbour outside hopes of making the play-offs. As always, there is a team or two that ‘goes on a run’ at this point in the season to turn themselves from being mid-table fodder to potentially being a Premier League side next season.
Back-to-back wins for Preston in tough away trips to QPR and Stoke, and both convincing, means they enter this clash in high spirits. It might surprise some to see Preston as favourites for this game. Certainly their last two results factor in that but both were away from home. I can understand that to a degree.
However, their home record has been a disappointment so far. Quite simply, they’ve drew too many at Deepdale, as they’ve actually only lost three times on home soil.
Derby are in decent nick, beating Reading in their last Championship game and edging past Accrington Stanley in the FA Cup last weekend. But the Rams' away record is too up and down for my liking as well.
County have quite a young side under Frank Lampard, so that inconsistency is to be expected in a way. They’ve won six times on the road, beating the likes of West Brom and Norwich, but they’ve also lost six, losing versus teams such as Rotherham and Bolton. You just don’t know what side of them you’ll get.
I’m happy to swerve the 1×2 market on this occasion.
A case is made for goals
Both Teams To Score however is a play I’m happy to have a nibble at – 8/11 (Betfred) is about right all things considered. These two teams are definitely high up the Championship table in relation to this paying out in their games.
Quite incredibly, 19/28 of Derby’s league matches have seen BTTS deliver, and the same in 18/29 of Preston’s – 86% of Preston’s home games has witnessed BTTS, whilst Wigan and QPR are the only sides that has failed to score at Deepdale this season.
Preston are also the fifth-highest scorers in the league, which again may surprise some.
The set-piece angle
My final two selections for this game are very much based around dead ball situations.
Jack Grealish of Aston Villa remains comfortably the most fouled player in the league, that even despite being out injured for a little while now, however, Preston are a side that tend to be on the receiving end of opposition challenges.
Firstly, we’ll focus on the corners. Preston and Derby are two teams lower down the Championship pyramid in relation to seeing corners in their games. The league average in any game is 9.91 corners overall, for Derby it reads 9.92, for Preston, it is 9.00.
With those numbers being as they are, we feel the play on Under 10.5 Corners at 4/5 (Bet365) has to be considered. To be honest, it isn’t a market I particularly like to play, but the reality is that neither side tend to experience many corners and we can’t ignore that fact.
Preston are actually the seventh-highest fouled team in the Championship. Either teams like to be a little rough with them or they are quite clever and canny at buying fouls. Either way, the figures don’t lie.
We’ve touched upon how Derby can be a little naïve given the amount of youngsters they have in the team. I get the feeling they might concede a few set pieces in dangerous situations in this game, especially given how Preston like to play on the front foot and will put Derby under considerable defensive pressure at times.
As we know, Derby have a set-piece expert of their own in Harry Wilson, and I don’t think anyone would be surprised if we banged one in the top corner. However, I think there is more value in looking towards Preston scoring from a similar situation.
Alex Neil should again name an unchanged starting XI for this game after back-to-back victories, so that means Paul Gallagher should retain his spot in the midfield. He is normally one of the first men to grab the ball if Preston win a free kick around the box. He can swing in a good ball but he also has a mean strike on him too.
Gallagher already has four goals to his name this season, the last coming away at Ipswich in November, so he is probably due a goal. Gallagher being an Anytime Goalscorer looks worth a small interest at 17/4 (Betway).