Preston North End haven’t been in the greatest form recently, but they got back to winning ways on Friday night at the best possible time when visiting noisy neighbours Blackburn Rovers.
The Lilywhites have normally gotten the better of Rovers in recent years but they suffered a humiliating 3-0 loss at Deepdale back in November – they avenged that however with a 2-1 victory at Ewood Park.
It was a tactical masterstroke from Alex Neil to switch from his tried and tested 4-2-3-1 system to a 3-5-2, which nullified the threats of Adam Armstrong and Bradley Dack almost completely.
That game is out of the way though and a new test is coming in the form of Watford, who erased any doubts over their scoring abilities at the weekend by sticking six goals in the back of Bristol City’s net at Vicarage Road.
It means they’ll be on cloud nine as they make their way up to Deepdale, but what dilemmas does Alex Neil face ahead of the game for his PNE side? We take a look…
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Whether to stick with the 3-5-2
Neil is normally quite stubborn when it comes to formations, with the 4-2-3-1 he uses rarely modified throughout the season.
The 3-5-2 though is one that has been experimented with a few times, and usually it is used when the opposition also line up with three centre-backs.
Interestingly though he chose to use it against Watford in the reverse fixture in November, but they went with a 4-4-2 and easily dispatched the Lilywhites 4-1.
It will definitely be playing in Neil’s mind as to whether he should stick with the same system that defeated Blackburn, or whether he should match up with Xisco’s 4-2-3-1l
Who to start up-front
Neil has quite a big squad to choose from, but he does have a lack of out-and-out strikers at his disposal.
Just Ched Evans, Emil Riis and Sean Maguire are in the squad but natural winger Tom Barkhuizen played up top with Evans against Blackburn, but no striker has been prolific this season (we can take Evans out of the equation as he only joined last month).
The ex-Fleetwood man is a sure-fire starter tonight due to his Man of the Match performance against Rovers and it’s just a case of who starts with him – it could even be Scott Sinclair who is more-than capable of playing through the middle.