Friday night football sees Preston welcome Derby to Deepdale. Tom Carnduff is looking at a new signing for value.
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Preston v Derby (Deepdale, 1945 GMT, Sky Sports Football)
These two sides experienced contrasting transfer windows, with Preston welcoming a number of new faces while Derby made just two additions.
On the surface, Preston appeared to have made some shrewd signings. They've looked to League One and League Two for value, picking up some of the lower divisions' top assets to improve their own chances.
Josh Ginnelly has come in from Walsall to add competition out wide while Brad Potts joins from Barnsley. Potts has shown he has no issues making the step up a division with two goals in his opening three games. That adds to the six goals and five assists he posted this season with the Tykes.
The one signing that should prove to be not only that best at the club, but one of the best in the division, is the addition of Exeter's Jayden Stockley.
The striker has enjoyed two prolific spells in League Two with Exeter and narrowly missed out on promotion during the 2017/18 season.
In total, he scored 49 goals and assisted a further 10 during that time, and has carried over that form with a goal and an assist in a Lilywhites shirt already.
Stockley's aerial presence is the most eye-catching characteristic of his game. He scored more headed goals in 2018 than any other player in the top European leagues, also scoring the most goals in a calendar year, beating Liverpool's Mohamed Salah.
The fact that he has been involved in 45 aerial battles in just three games highlights that Preston are looking to play to his strengths. That's already more than some of their other forwards, who have been involved in the North End squad since the start.
Preston can win this game by adopting a more direct approach. They'll look to find Stockley with balls in the air knowing that he will likely win the majority of the battles against the Rams' centre-backs, which will allow the likes of Potts, Sean Maguire and Alan Browne to join the attack and exploit any gaps created as a result.
Richard Keogh just about makes the top 40 for aerial duels won in the Championship, whereas Preston have three players who have won more than the Derby centre-back.
By comparison, Stockley has won a fifth of the aerial battles won by Keogh already, that's despite less than 10% of the playing time in the Championship.
It makes for even better reading when compared with Fikayo Tomori. Stockley's is at 28% of aerial duels won by the other Derby defender, again despite playing less than 10% of the minutes he has.
It shows how important that area of the pitch will be and it could be the tipping point that moves this game in Preston's favour. The best price of 2/1 available on Stockley scoring with Betfred looks tempting, but it's worthi going with the 15/2 available on a headed goal for the striker.
In attacking situations, he'll more than likely beat the likes of Keogh and Tomori to the ball. With the creative influence of someone like Potts in the squad too, it's clear that Preston will look for situations where they can give Stockley the chance to find the net.
A note to consider the card markets here too as that physical battle at the top-end of the pitch could attract the referee's attention. The striker picked up four yellows for Exeter this season prior to the move, largely down to that presence he brings.
With Keogh and Tomori keen to keep him quiet, there could be occasions where someone steps over the mark slightly as they look to get the edge. The 11/2 available on a Stockley card is also worth a small play.
In terms of the result in this one, Preston look good value at 11/8 with Betfred to secure the three points. Derby failed to bring in a central defender during the January window and that could cost them, whereas the hosts look a galvanised side now.
Betfair have a Preston win with over 2.5 goals in the game at 13/5 which also suggests good value if you're looking for something a bit bigger. North End have scored six goals in their last two games, and the addition of a striker with goals should see them jump up the standings.
Score prediction: Preston 2-1 Derby (Sky Bet odds: 9/1)
- Preston are winless in 11 league matches against Derby (W0 D3 L8) since a 2-0 win in December 2008, which was the last time these sides met on a Friday.
- Derby have conceded just one goal in their last six Championship matches against Preston (W4 D2 L0), keeping clean sheets in each of their last three games.
- Preston have only lost two of their last 29 league matches in February (W17 D10), though they did lose their last such match in the month, a 0-1 defeat to Ipswich Town.
- Preston have won their last two Championship games, last winning three in a row in the same season in December 2017.
- Derby have alternated between victory and defeat in their last six away league games (W3 L3), while losing at Leeds last time out.
- Preston’s Brad Potts has scored in his last two Championship games – he’s never scored in three consecutive games in his Football League career.
Odds correct at 1245 GMT (01/02/19)