After being promoted back to the Championship via the play-offs last season, Preston have so far proved that they deserve their place in England’s second division after picking up 39 points after 30 games.
Simon Grayson’s side were only 4 points away from the drop after a Boxing Day defeat at Huddersfield but a run of 3 successive wins lifted the Whites away from the relegation zone.
Going into this game, which many wouldn’t have penned down as a mid-table clash at the start of the season, Preston are only one point behind Wolves, who have struggled to put together a decent run of results to challenge the top six.
Kenny Jackett’s side will be bitterly disappointed to be lagging 10 points behind sixth-placed Sheffield Wednesday with only 16 games to go.
After missing out on the play-offs on goal difference last season, the fans had hoped that they would be able to go one step further this time around but it’s looking like a third season of Championship football beckons.
The away side come into this game on the back of a 2-1 win over Huddersfield after a 90th minute winner by Alan Browne and they will be hoping to make it two out of two and leapfrog an out-of-sorts Wolves team that hasn’t won a match for over a month.
In what is set up to be an intriguing encounter between two very closely matched sides, FootballLeagueWorld writer Alex Grove at THREE things to look out for in Saturday’s game:
1) Joe Mason
Wolves’ £3m man scored inside the first 3 minutes on his debut against Bolton and was then dropped for the trip to Reading.
Whether Kenny Jackett will include the 24-year-old forward against Preston is anyone’s guess given his rather strange exclusion from the starting XI last week.
Even if he does start him, where he will play him is another question on fans’ lips – will Jackett start him in an advanced midfield role or will he play him as a striker, perhaps with Sigurdarson?
It remains to be seen what the boss decides to do but it’s a strange move to leave your January marquee signing sat on the bench after a goalscoring debut.
2) Low-scoring affair
Preston are not known for their goalscoring prowess and with Wolves also currently stuck in a rut and bereft of confidence, you wouldn’t expect either team to go out there and score a flurry of goals.
Aside from a 3-0 win at Charlton and a 2-0 win at Burnley, every one of Preston’s league wins this season have been by one goal margins. They have also been involved in seven nil-nil’s this campaign – more than any other Championship side.
They are the fifth lowest scorers in the Championship but have only conceded 28 goals – 12 less than their Midlands opponents.
Wolves have scored 39 goals this season but like North End, they aren’t exactly renowned for winning games by large margins.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see both teams approach this match with caution and for it to be settled by just the one goal after 90 minutes.
3) Dissent from the home crowd
It’s fair to say that the relationship between the club and the fans is currently at a low due to a number of recent factors which have angered the Molineux faithful.
The decision to sell Benik Afobe was one that was largely accepted as something that was going to happen sooner rather than later.
However the lack of reinvestment from the striker’s £10m sale has angered the fans and caused them to question where that money has actually gone.
£3m was spent on Joe Mason to replace Afobe – an underwhelming signing when many fans were expecting that the cash would be splashed on someone with more of a goalscoring pedigree.
The club also signed Michal Zyro and Mike Williamson for undisclosed fees but a lot of the money made from Afobe’s departure was not reinvested back into the squad.
Fans were then understandably outraged when the club asked the fans to delve into their own pockets to fund a £250,000 statue for club legend Sir Jack Hayward.
If Jez Moxey and Steve Morgan are both in attendance at tomorrow’s game, expect to see some level of abuse directed towards them from the fans – especially if things aren’t going their way in the game itself.
Wolves and Preston fans…What are your predictions for the clash? Do you think the home side can put an end to 3 successive draws and grab a much-needed 3 points? Will Grayson’s men leapfrog Kenny Jackett’s side with an away win? Let us know what think in the comments below!