Sunderland travel to Deepdale on Saturday to face a Preston North End side that started the season slightly slower than they would have wanted, however the hosts themselves will be disappointed with their recent performances also. The two sides last met on the final day of the season in May, where Sunderland comfortably won 3-0.
Preston North End
Preston travelled to Bristol City last time out where they walked away with a point after a 1-1 draw. The first half performance from both sides lacked any sort of intent, with the first and only shot of the entire half coming from Bristol City’s Sam Bell in the 38th minute. The second half saw far more action however and Preston conceded straight after kick off. From that point on, Preston showed attacking impetus and were rewarded for their efforts as new signing, Will Keane, equalised. They also fell short in the EFL Cup against Salford City last night on penalties, after recovering from an early two goal deficit.
Sunderland will provide a more difficult challenge on Saturday and the Lilywhites boss Ryan Lowe will hope that his side can shake off their early season troubles in order to be prepared for the intense Black Cats. The Preston faithful may have brace themselves to witness their side have spells without the ball, but new signing Mads Frokjaer-Jensen showed promise against Bristol City and his creativity will be needed if Preston are to get a positive result at the weekend.
The Black Cats opener against Ipswich Town showcased why the Championship is such an enjoyable league to watch. Spectators witnessed 15 corners, 33 shots, 3 goals, 8 yellow cards (including the managers) and a red card for Sunderland’s Trai Hume in what was an incredibly exciting encounter. Tony Mowbray will be pleased with his sides attacking performance but not the result, as they dominated all the attacking statistics other than the scoreline, with Ipswich winning 2-1. The visitors were able to expose the hosts defensive uncertainty, maintaining a threat throughout the ninety minutes (plus the 15 minutes of added time).
Against Preston, the approach must be to continue that attacking philosophy but attempt to control the game with and without the ball. Whether that be by not committing as many men forward or making safer choices in possession by calculating risky actions. The majority of the Sunderland attacking threat comes from the wide men, Jack Clark, and Patrick Roberts, with five key passes made between them in the opener, if Mowbray can work the duo into the game then they have a strong chance of picking up three points.
Sunderland and Preston both have the potential to create something out of nothing but also be weak in transitions which could lead to an intense, scrappy affair. Mowbray does have a lot of talent at his disposal and his trust In youth is refreshing, yet it may be the reason why his side is all action. Preston will make it a tough task at Deepdale but the Black Cats will be prepared, just like they were last season.
The final prediction is Preston 1-2 Sunderland.