It’s fair to say that Preston North End have got off to a strong start in the Championship this season, with Alex Neil’s side currently sat second in the league table heading into the international break.
There have been a number of players that have stood out so far in this year’s campaign, and they’ll be keen to build on some impressive showings as the season heads towards the festive period.
Their strong performances haven’t gone unnoticed it seems, with Sky Sports’ EFL pundit David Prutton likening North End to Sheffield United’s team last season in an exclusive interview with Football League World’s Chief Editor Sam Rourke.
“The more I think about Preston, the more you get shades of what Sheffield United were.
“A group of players that have got a lot of Football League experience and maybe have bounced off bigger clubs in the past, but are a very good footballing side.”
But how do both sides compare in terms of statistics so far this season?
In our latest FLW Duel, we take a closer look and see if any similarities between the two teams can be drawn between fans and pundits this season.
Both teams are matched quite evenly in these statistics after 16 games, and Preston will be hoping they can replicate what Sheffield United did by the end of the season, as they won promotion into the Premier League under the guidance of Chris Wilder.
North End and the Blades both won nine out of their opening 16 league games, which has seen them stay within touching distance of the league leaders.
Preston have made themselves extremely though to beat, and that shows in the statistics, with Alex Neil’s side only being beaten three times this season, compared to Sheffield United who were beaten five times at this stage in the season last term.
The Blades drew less games (2) than the Lilywhites (4) though at this stage, which might suggest that Neil’s side are more content to settle for a point, particularly in away fixtures.
Preston are the Championship’s top scorers with 31 so far this season, and they edge that ahead of Sheffield United here, with the Blades having 27 goals to their name in their promotion-winning campaign after 16 games.
Chris Wilder’s side also conceded more goals in those games compared to Preston, with Sheffield United starting last season quite inconsistently, leaking 19 goals.
Preston have conceded 17 goals so far, but their goal difference is made up with the fact that they are the top scorers in the division to date.
So, Prutton has every reason to compare Preston to the Sheffield United team of last season, as the teams are closely-matched after their opening 16 league games of the season.
Alex Neil will be making sure his players remain grounded though, as they can’t afford to get ahead of themselves at such a crucial stage of this year’s campaign.