After going on a seven-match winning run which saw 25 goals scored, Fulham’s streak was snapped by a resilient Derby County at Craven Cottage last night.
Marco Silva’s side knocked on the door several times against Wayne Rooney’s outfit but they just couldn’t get past Kelle Roos, despite having 21 attempts of which only five were on target.
The Cottagers were missing a key outlet in Aleksander Mitrovic, who has 21 goals in 18 outings to his name but owing to an illness he was absent against the Rams.
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There’s no guarantee that the Serb will make it to Deepdale for a lunchtime clash with Preston North End on Saturday, with Silva confirming that several other players, including Harry Wilson and Harrison Reed, need to be checked on.
That will be music to Frankie McAvoy’s ears in the dugout at North End, with the Scot under a lot of pressure to see off increasing fan dissent and pick up more wins, and against Middlesbrough on Tuesday there was a bit of a smash and grab as the Lilywhites were 2-1 victors at the Riverside.
EFL pundit David Prutton isn’t expecting PNE to pick up back-to-back victories though with a 2-1 win for the visitors being his prediction.
“Preston keep picking up wins at times you don’t expect it,” Prutton said on his Sky Sports predictions podcast.
We saw them do a job at Bournemouth a couple of weeks ago, and then again at Middlesbrough in midweek.
“This is another tough proposition for them.
“Fulham were held by Derby in midweek and will be hopeful of having Aleksandar Mitrovic back for this one.
“They should still have enough to win and keep their spot at the top.”
With a number of Fulham players struggling with illness, this could be a perfect time for Preston North End to pounce.
Of course even if the majority of the doubts are absent on Saturday then Silva has enough firepower to replace them from the bench, but North End picked up three points against another high-flying team a few weeks ago in Bournemouth so why can’t they here?
They’d have to perform a lot better than they did against Middlesbrough though – they were comprehensively dominated for the most part before scoring from a set piece and being gifted a winner by Sol Bamba.
PNE do look frail at the back though and that must worry McAvoy going into this with Fulham having so many outlets they can score from, and I can only see a convincing away success inbound.