Monday, November 30, 2009

CHAMPIONSHIP ................


This is a very big local derby, with no love lost between the two "neighbours" and often involving crowd trouble. Unlike in the EPL, where sometimes the players are so far detached from the fans, that they are unaware how vital these derby games are, both sets of players here will be up for the battle ahead and know how important the match is to the supporters.

This series of games has been totally dominated by the visiting team in recent seasons, regardless of the venue and Preston have collected four points from their last two visits to the seaside resort, including a famous 3-1 win last season, a result which kick started their season and was talked about for weeks afterwards. They arrive in similar shape this season, looking to get something going, after a four match run without a win. They certainly played well enough last week, outplaying Newcastle for much of the game and creating 16 attempts on goal, before conceding a late winner to the league leaders. The similarities do not end there, as the match is being played at exactly the same time of year and in very similar conditions with rain and high winds creating havoc all over the UK.

Three points for the visitors would see them move back up into a tie for seventh in the table, just outside the playoff zone. They will be without central defender Youl Mawene, which is a big loss, but is offset somewhat by the news that key player Richard Chaplow is fit to start and he will strip much fitter after playing with a pain killing injection in the last game, following a recent operation. Chaplow ran Blackpool ragged last year and with on loan Stoke player, the talented Michael Tonge , alongside him in the centre of the park, I expect PNE to create plenty of chances and dominate the midfield. They will get huge support from the 1750 travelling fans, which is their full ticket allocation and I expect them to make the short journey home in bouyant mood.

Blackpool are having a fantastic season under the effervescent Ian Holloway, they are unbeaten at home (6-2-0) and could move into the top four with a win. However, a fine win over Newcastle aside, their other seven home opponents have all been bottom half teams and almost all arrived out of sorts and struggling for any form at all, they will face a far sterner test this evening and in my notebook, I have Preston as the classier outfit and the more likely of these two ,to eventually challenge for a top six spot. They collected more points from losing positions than anyother FL side last season and unlike in recent years, when they have depended upon their form at Deepdale to keep them in the playoff hunt, this camapaign, they are averaging almost as many points (1.375/1.44) per game on the road, as at home.

7 points Preston +1/2 ball 1.85 asian line.

Good Luck.

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