Newcastle United - Preston North End

Toons are on the top, but big margin between them and second placed WBA has been melted, thankfully to problematic results on the road. On the other hand, Newcastle are best home side in Championship with 12 wins and just four draws (34 goals scored and just 8 conceded – 0.5 per a match). They also hold the best defensive record in the division. Club faced a crisis of performance in two games vs. WBA, but after that three home wins in a row and all with margin higher than two goals. Boss Chris Hughton can not count on striker Shola Ameobi and midfielders Steven Taylor and Joey Barton. Midfielder Nicky Butt and midfielder Jose Enrique will face a late fitness test. Newcastle have won the last four matches between these clubs.

Preston are struggling under Ferguson junior, as they have only one win in last five games (Sheff.Utd. at home, 2-1). Good thing is they’re (still) far from relegation zone. Bad thing is they’re poor travelers, they’ve noticed seven defeats in last nine games on the road (one draw and one win) and next one will be at the toughest place in the second tier. Situation looks even worse after Tuesday’s defeat vs. Derby and conceded five(!) goals. The biggest problem is defense line that conceded 11 goals at last four games on the road (total of 30 goals and the worst record alongside Scunthorpe). That defense will miss the skipper Callum Davidson, while midfielders Richard Chaplow and Paul Parry are also out. Preston have played three of the current top five teams away from home, and lost all three games.

There’s no doubt Newcastle are far better squad in Championship. Their current performances and just three points more than WBA will guarantee their serious approach in this game. Preston just look like a victim of bad circumstances. Home win, -1.5 handicap as a gamble.

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