Pre-Match View From Preston
“Certainly going to be a tough game. They’re a very good side with momentum from their promotion last season, a decent squad and arguably THE outstanding manager in the football league over the last couple of years in Wilder. The amount of points he has picked up with Northampton and the Blades is outstanding.
However, we may be playing them at just the right time. We’re now on a decent run, they are winless in 4. Plus, their central midfield pairing of John Fleck (suspension) and Paul Coutts (broken leg) will both be unavailable and they have been an absolutely vital cog in their promotion back to this level and their success since.
AN will have a few dilemmas after today. Horgan has made a big impact. Woods will be back available but a reshuffled backline have done well today. Johnson, who’s been class this season, must be an option as well. Harrop has been good in the last couple of sub appearances as well, and must now be pushing for a start ahead of Browne who, whilst working his socks off, doesn’t create or threaten enough from such an advanced midfield role.
Could be a cracking game.”
“This will be an incredibly tough game. Their results have dipped recently but they battered Bristol City last week and hit the post or bar 4 times so it could easily have gone their way. They also have the Championships top goalscorer in Clarke and their 2nd highest Sharp has 2 more than our highest Hugill.
However on the back of 2 wins, 3 in 4 and 5 unbeaten we should be confident going into it.”
“Big game for us as a win would put us 2pts off Sheff Utd, who will still occupy 6th no matter what happens on Saturday. A win for them would stop this mini-slide they’re on though so i’m expecting a good game with both teams going for it.”
“the biggest game of our season so far as a win would put us in touching distance of the top 6.
Not sure who Sheff Utd have in reserve but no Coutts or Fleck is good news, didn’t think i’d ever say this but hoping we can keep Leon Clarke quiet. Potentially a good game as Sheff Utd won’t come here and sit back i don’t think.”
“The real decision for AN next week will be whether to persist with the same back-line as Saturday which until we got the breakthrough from a set-piece saw us struggling to sustain any fluency. Frankly if Woods is fit then I might start Clarke on the bench despite his goal today – we might not be so fortunate with it against higher quality opposition.”
“Still pretty limited who we can field at the back though while Woods is out again, with Spurr, Cunningham and Earl missing (all lefties).”
“Should be a good game this, neither manager will sit in so you’ve got to fancy a few goals aswell.I hope he doesn’t dick about at the back though, as against the better teams I think we’d get found out. “
“Because of Leon Clarke and Billy Sharp I’d suggest a back 3, with Clarke, Hunts and Davies in there. Hopefully we have enough to cover the wing back positions.”
“Harrop, Johnson, Gally and Horgan all have good long range strikes on them, maybe something Alex Neil has looked at.
Interesting game on Saturday, who would have thought that Leon Clarke would be the league’s danger man??
Probably a good pick for both teams to score.”
“while they are still playing well they are leaking goals for fun in their last few games. A positive looking North End are going to score against them in our current form. Really looking forward to this one and they always bring a few so should be a crackin atmosphere and hopefully we can extend our unbeaten run to 6 and get 3 wins on the bounce and also note only 2 points behind them if it works out which I suspect it will.”
“Are they really playing well? You might be right but their results are nosediving – especially since Coutts got injured.
I certainly agree with your prediction that we’ll win. Two points behind the play offs and we’ll be right back in it!”
“things aren’t going their way at the moment and now Fleck banned for 3 games on top of Coutts injury. Blades fans rate these two as their best at the back. Bring it on.”
“Really don’t know about Fleck, but that sounds good news too! Have heard the same about Coutts – that he was bang average until Chris Wilder was appointed.”
“Their fans are really worried about the loss of Coutts and Fleck with a lot of the teams good form being put down to this midfield partnership.
Obviously we are well aware of what it’s like having key players missing so it’s sort of even on that score.
Even with their two key players out I don’t think they are a team who will sit back, so that will suit us and I think it could be a very good day for the whites.”
“But they don’t play at the back! They are both central midfielders. Still, about time such things went against other teams. We have had, on balance, terrible luck this season.”
“If ex PNE player Paul Coutts is there captain and talisman (out injured at the moment) I would hope that we have progressed sufficiently to be able to get a result tbh …..
Always like Sharp tbh ….”
“I liked Coutts when he was here, tidy and confident with a bit of skill about him, always thought he should have scored more but he’s a good player.”
“Decent player. He’s finally found a manager who could get the best out of him.”
“Shame about his injury. Always thought he was a good player for us and enjoyed watching him.”
“4k Blades a welcome addition to the crowd on a traditional low attendance day usually caused by shithouse males letting the other half drag them around the shops xmas shopping”
“Dont mind being out numbered or out sung by Blades on Saturday – providing they go home miserable after giving us a load of cash “!”