I have to say, it feels good to be back writing match previews once again. However, there’s no opposition preview this week, unfortunately.
And after what feels like an age due to the international break, football is back as Alex Neil’s men take on Cardiff City on Sunday at 12pm, live on Sky Sports and this being the second time in as many games that North End will be on live on Sky on a Sunday.
This is a game in which North End will look to build on their first win of the season last time out against Brentford. It was a memorable game, to say the least as we ran out 4-2 winners over Brentford in what was our first visit to the Brentford Community Stadium.
As for Cardiff, they will want to get back to winning ways after a goalless draw against Blackburn in their last game before the international break. A good result, really, considering they were down to 10 men.
The last time the Bluebirds visited Deepdale, they came away with a huge result which pushed them into pole position for the play-offs as they beat us 3-1 to climb above Preston into 6th and they went on to finish the season in 5th. North End got back into the game in the second half and should really have had a second goal at just 2-1 to Cardiff but David Nugent spooned his chance and put it wide.
Obviously the result set us back but for me, it was the one that wiped out any dwindling chances we had of making the top 6 last season.
One name I think most North End fans will be familiar with by now is someone I’d consider to be a huge danger for Cardiff; Kieffer Moore.
The Welsh international has been a target for North End in the past but a move has never materialised and he eventually left Wigan to join Cardiff in the summer for around £2m.
He has got two goals already this season in just 4 games, as well as earning a call up for his national team. He featured against England but was forced off just before half time after picking up a knock but, assuming Moore is fit to face North End, he will prove to be a handful at the very least.
He’s a mobile target man who is definitely a poacher in and around the box, so our centre-halves, whoever that might be on Sunday, will have to be on top form to face one of the most physical strikers in the league.
The second player who poses a threat on Sunday is Liverpool loanee, Sheyi Ojo. He is a tricky and pacey winger who has featured in the Championship a number of times after loan spells with Wigan as well as a successful spell with Fulham in this division, so we know that he has potential to cause us problems. Especially considering our poor record conceding from wide areas, specifically not dealing with crosses into the box, we will really need to keep Ojo as quiet as possible come Sunday afternoon.
Now, for some North End thoughts. I think Sunday afternoon will be an interesting one. Cardiff have had a fairly poor start to what many thought would be a successful campaign for the Welsh side. However, they do possess a lot of attacking threat.
It looks like Alan Browne will be a miss for the game after being informed he has to self-isolate following his time away with Ireland. You can read more about that here. However, should Daniel Johnson be passed fit for the game, I think it’s likely that we will see him slot into that number 10 role.
Cardiff will be without Lee Tomlin who was the recipient of Cardiff’s red card in their last game against Blackburn Rovers, that’s certainly a plus for us. Tomlin always seems to have an effect when he plays against North End so his absence is hugely welcomed, by me at least, for this weekend.
As for a result, I’m going to go for a 1-1 draw. This is purely because of the fact that I can’t see us turning around our poor run of results when coming back from an international break. It’s a curse that doesn’t seem to be going away but I’m hopeful given the training ground move this week, the players will be in high spirits and be focussed on ending that trend and getting another 3 points on the board.
It’ll be interesting to see if Emil Riis gets a start although I think we may see him feature from the bench this weekend. In terms of players starting the game, I suspect we will be welcoming Tom Barkhuizen back to the XI after his incredibly controversial one-match ban following his equally controversial red card against Stoke City.
Other than those two players, in for Potts and Browne, I think the rest will be the same as the side who took to the pitch against Brentford. Hopefully, it’s a similar outcome, minus two goals conceded but we can all live in hope.
Finally, if you’ve not read about From the Finney’s invite to the new training ground in Euxton, you can read all about it here. Jake also got the chance to speak to Peter Ridsdale again for the podcast. You can listen to that on the player below, find us in your usual streaming apps by searching “From the Finney”, or just visit our podcast page.