Preston v Stoke: PNE to pile more misery on Potters

Alex Neil - Preston
Preston are aiming high under Alex Neil
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Stoke have yet to taste victory since dropping down to the Championship. The Potters head to Preston on Saturday evening with Mark O'Haire on hand to preview the encounter.

"PNE were amongst the leading Championship lights last season across the major performance data metrics and only conceded more than a solitary strike on five occasions when welcoming divisional rivals"

Preston v Stoke
Saturday August 18, 17:30
Live on Sky Sports

Preston aiming high

Preston concluded 2017/18 in seventh- just two points off the play-off positions - and Alex Neil's men are aiming for another season chasing the top-six. The Lilywhites kicked-off their campaign with a comfortable 1-0 success over QPR on home soil, before falling to a defeat in Swansea by the same scoreline.

North End were poor before the interval in Wales but much improved in the second period and Neil suggested his side lacked belief. The Scot bemoaned unusually disappointing defending and a flat attitude when in possession; thereafter Preston improved immeasurably and almost pinched a point.

The Lilywhites made 11 changes for their EFL Cup win over Morecambe in midweek with Brandon Barker, Graham Burke, Jordan Storey and Ryan Ledson all making their club debuts. However, Calum Woods was forced off late in the first period as his hamstring problem returned, rendering him unavailable here.

Stoke struggling to adjust to second-tier life

Stoke picked up their first point since dropping down to the Championship last weekend as they played out a fortunate 1-1 draw with Brentford. The Potters struggled to fashion any clear-cut opportunities during the contest with Benik Afobe's goal gifted to the hosts following a dreadful defensive mix-up.

Manager Gary Rowett pulled no punches post-match, admitting his team would need a dramatic improvement if they're to realise ambitions of an immediate return to the Premier League. The former Derby boss said, "My message to the players is hat 'we've got to wake up'."

The poor performance came on the back of a convincing defeat at Leeds on the opening weekend where Stoke's only goal came via a penalty. Indeed, only Millwall (4) have landed fewer on-target attempts than City across the first two weeks of Championship action.

North End a nice Draw No Bet price

Preston have been chalked up as 2.568/5 shots to deliver top honours at Deepdale. The hosts have returned W10-D8-L6 under Alex Neil's watch here, although all six losses came when North End were entertaining top-half teams (W3-D2-L6).

Nevertheless, the Lilywhites are a tough nut to crack. PNE were amongst the leading Championship lights last season across the major performance data metrics and only conceded more than a solitary strike on five occasions when welcoming divisional rivals to their Lancashire base.

Stoke 3.1085/40 are still expected to challenge towards the top of the Championship tree this term but it might be wise to oppose the Potters until they find their range under Gary Rowett. The visitors have convincingly been beaten in shot counts by Leeds and Brentford and could still be vulnerable.

Preston can be backed at 1.784/5 in the Draw No Bet market.

Goals may not flow at Deepdale

Only nine (38%) of Preston's 24 home tussles under Alex Neil's tutorship have crossed the Over 2.5 Goals whitewash 2.1411/10 and considering the hosts conceded just 46 goals in 2017/18, another low-scoring contest looks to be on the cards.

Stoke have already shown defensive deficiencies, conceding stacks of attempts and so I'm happy to swerve the appealing 1.748/11 on Under 2.5 Goals due to the volatile nature of goals betting in the early stages of a season.

Mark's 2018/19 Profit/Loss

Staked: 8.00 pts
Returned: 13.39 pts
P/L: +5.39 pts

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