How good was Tuesday? It was ‘fun’. Just loads of happy people in St James’ Park. Loads of kids catching the bug and the going home happy. Cheap tickets, half term and a proper smashing of Championship opposition. Waking up the next morning to watch the highlights for the eighteenth time.
You don’t need me to tell you this Saturday will be different. I’m thinking more Rotherham and Barnsley away than QPR
or Tuesday. If we get three points they’ll be hard fought. Preston score headers from set plays. It’s what they thrive on. Three goals v Huddersfield and one v Norwich. All from set plays. United have conceded one goal in five games. We just don’t concede. Preston will be looking to test that out with their excellent delivery. It’s a big game for Darlow who has been flawless since coming back into the side. The last side to pepper us non-stop with crosses were Rotherham who on another day could have scored. So a test.
Tuesday doesn’t really have any impact on Preston. We’re the better side and remain the better side. Shoeing their second string won’t affect the confidence of their league side. Preston have won five of their last 7 which include draws at Birmingham and Brighton and victories over high flying Norwich and Huddersfield. The Norwich result stands out. Not just the win but the clean sheet. Impressive and we’re going to have a lot about us to break them down.
Deepdale is set for a season high crowd and 6k mags. It’s a big game for them. We’re a big game for everybody and one of these days we’ll not win a game. We can’t win them all, even if it feels like we can. Preston deserve more respect than they gave us on Tuesday. We shouldn’t fall into the trap their manager made by disrespecting his fans and Rafa Benitez by putting out a side who were never going to be at the races even with the eleven men.
I feel Mitrovic is pushing for a start but it won’t come here. Diame two goals and Perez three in two. A nice headache. I rate big Mo. I think he starts. Atsu was superb on Tuesday and simply impresses every time. I love Goufrann this season but having Atsu and Ritchie on the pitch takes us to another level offensively. Considering the size of the Preston back
four Goufrann’s presence from set pieces may be crucial.
Complacency was warned against by Rafa the last time we won six nil but the game against Wolves stank of it. We haven’t seen a couple of players in the first team since. I don’t think the same problem will happen again. With Brighton and Norwich playing each other, one of them have to drop points (hopefully both of them) so it’s a great chance to extend our lead at the top of the division. With Cardiff at home to come and then Leeds and Blackburn before the quarter final – we could have a great cushion at the top by the time we take on Hull.
Preston have conceded just once in their last four games at home and we’ve conceded twice away from home all season. It’s going to be tight.
We’ll sneak it one nil.
ALEX HURST – Follow Alex on @tfalex1892
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