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Preston North End v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship

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Fan Focus: Preston fan Oliver is backing Sunderland to win 2-1 in their first match of 2024!

Ahead of today’s match, we spoke to Preston fan Oliver Hargreaves of The Butter Pie Podcast, to discuss their dip in form under Ryan Lowe - which players should we be wary of?

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

After a phenomenal start to the season, Preston have dropped to mid-table, but are still well in the playoff mix. How would you summarise your season so far?

The season has been a bit of a ‘Big Dipper’ rollercoaster ride, too many ups and downs.

But with four wins in the past 17 games it isn’t in one of the better parts of our season to be honest, but with still being around the playoffs the chance is always there, as long as our form changes drastically.

Having lost your last match at home to struggling Sheffield Wednesday, would it be fair to say the mood was gone quite flat among fans?

The mood was quite flat prior to the Leeds match in which Lowe got given the dreaded vote of confidence, which means to those Football Manager players they better start counting them last few days.

Boxing Day result was a little pick-me-up but it has been dropped once again with the Sheff Wednesday game. Consistently inconsistent.

Preston North End v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship
Preston beat Sunderland 2-1 earlier this season at Deepdale.
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Preston have conceded the joint-third most league goals this season. What would you say are the key factors behind that poor defensive record?

The reason behind the high number of goals conceded is how we set up, the negative form of our defence, and Woodman having an absolute howler of a season since the incredible start.

So form has gone right out of the window and needs to commence again sooner rather than later if we want to maintain around the playoffs.

The January transfer window is now open. Where would you like Preston to strengthen?

I’d like to see North End improve ourselves with a creative winger like Millar but on the opposite wing and also bring in some reinforcements for our back-line, because with the poor form there needs to be changes made.

Players to play for both Preston and Sunderland? Here are two - Ross Wallace and Dickson Etuhu.
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Preston top-scorer Will Keane is set to miss the match. How big of a blow will that be?

Will Keane scores goals, but may not be as big as a miss as first imagined.

Due to the dreaded vote of confidence, Lowe has changed up the system with us now playing a 4-3-3. This probably leaves Keane out of the limelight as he works better as playing just off the striker, which he wouldn’t be able to play in this current system.

Aside from Keane, who has stood out for Preston this season that can cause Sunderland problems?

The main players to look out for are Alan Browne and Liam Millar. The most consistent players on our team this season.

And it’ll be a sight to see two fantastic wingers on the pitch in Liam Millar and Jack Clarke at the Stadium of Light. (Just hope that the fullbacks are ready, especially Potts)

Preston North End v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship
Goalkeeper Freddie Woodman won Preston’s Player of the Year award last season.
Photo by Dave Howarth - CameraSport via Getty Images

Which eleven players do you think will start?

I hope the lineup will be: Woodman (GK), Potts, Whatmough, Lindsay, Hughes, Whiteman, McCann, Millar, Browne, Frøkjær, Osmajic. I hope that Frøkjær start, albeit he has been left out in recent times by Lowe. But the creativity in the side is needing to improve and Frøkjær brings that.

Sunderland have only won one of their last nine matches against Preston - what is your prediction for the final score?

My honest score prediction, albeit I would love a PNE win, is unfortunately going to be 2-1 Sunderland.


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